Chandigarh: Medicos Legal Action Group (MLAG) has sought the status of ‘Institution of Excellence’ for the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi as defined under Section 4(b) of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006.
“The list of 17 institutions included in the Schedule of this Act, which are labelled ‘Institutions of Excellence’ and hence exempt from reservations is incomplete without inclusions of premier medical institutions like AIIMS and PGI,” said Dr Neeraj Nagpal, convenor, Medicos Legal Action Group, Chandigarh.
North-Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Science, Shillong and Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai are the only medical institutions in the current list.
According to Dr Nagpal, “India is dependent on research done in foreign countries for development in medical sciences and PGIMER and AIIMS are both internationally at the cutting edge of research. These two institutions provide faculty in clinical super specialties and basic research to the country and merit should be the only criteria for selection in these institutes.”
“We request the government to exclude PGIMER and AIIMS New Delhi — Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI), Lucknow and Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry may also be considered — from Section 3 of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act by declaring these as Institutes of Excellence and National Importance,” he said.
Dr Nagpal further said, “Awarding well-deserved status of ‘Institutes of Excellence and National Importance’ will exclude these institutions from reservations based on caste in admission to speciality and superspeciality courses and automatically for faculty positions too.”
“Reservations lead to frustration among faculty because of blocked avenues for advancement and promotes brain drain from these premier institutes to private corporate hospitals and to foreign countries,” he claimed.
The genesis of the controversy can be traced back to 1992 when in the case of Indra Sawhney vs Union of India reservations in speciality and superspeciality courses was disallowed. In para 838 of the judgment, the nine-judge bench observed that there are certain services and positions where because of the nature of duties merit alone counts. In such situations it may not be advisable to provide for reservations. For example, technical posts in research and development organizations/departments/institutions, in specialities and super-specialities in medicine, engineering and other such courses in physical sciences and mathematics, in defence services and in establishments connected therewith. Similarly, in the case of posts at the higher echelons, e.g., Professors (in education), Pilots in Indian Airlines and Air India, scientists and technicians in nuclear and space application, provision for reservation would not be advisable. In para 836 the bench said that the idea of reservation implies selection of a less meritorious person.
In 2006 the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act was passed whereby as per section 4 (b), reservation to be provided in admission would not be applicable in Institutions of Excellence and Institutes of National Importance. A list of 17 such Institutions (including two medical institutions) was appended in Schedule of this Act. Section 4 (d) of the Act also excluded reservation in a course or programme at a high level of specialization including at the post-doctoral level within any branch of study or faculty.
In July 2013, in the case of Faculty Association of AIIMS vs Union of India a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled that the very concept of reservation implies mediocrity. The Union Government appealed against this judgment and in the review petition a five-judge bench in January 2014 threw the ball back into the Central Government’s court saying that the Government was free to amend the constitution to provide reservation in faculty for superspeciality and that the previous judgment did not place any restriction on the Government to decide whether or not there should be reservation in superspeciality posts.
“The Government wants caste based reservation in these (AIIMS) faculty posts and without the Supreme Court’s objection is sure to introduce the same for political reasons,” Dr Nagpal said in a statement.