KOCHI: In a huge setback to Kerala’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) government as well as the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF), the Supreme Court has ordered expulsion of 180 students from Kannur and Karuna medical colleges that the two sought to protect through law.
The Kerala high court had in October last year invalidated the 2016-17 admission of 150 students in the Kannur Medical College and 30 students in the Karuna Medical College owing to irregularities in the admissions. The apex court later cancelled the admissions.
However, the government sought to regularize the admission through an ordinance citing the interest of the students. An apex court bench led by Justice Arun Mishra viewed this as an attempt to circumvent the court orders and stayed the ordinance with a direction to the government to expel the 180 students.
A bill entitled Kerala Professional Colleges (Regularisation of Admission in Medical Colleges) Bill 2018) was unanimously passed by the Legislative Assembly on April 4 to replace the ordinance. The court refused to take cognizance of the bill saying it was yet to be signed by the Governor.
Congress MLAs P. T. Thomas and V. T. Balaram had questioned constitutional mandate of the Assembly to pass legislation annulling the SC judgement. However, leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala overruled them saying that the Bill need to be passed in the larger interests of the students.
There were allegations that the government and the Opposition had joined hands to save the errant college managements. Congress legislator Benny Behnan has even alleged financial dealings behind the support to the two college managements.
The opposition leader has refuted the allegation. He said that the opposition had backed the bill considering the future of the students. However, he said they will fully respect the apex court order. Former chief minister Oommen Chandy defended Ramesh saying that the opposition had the interest of the students uppermost in its mind.
However, former state Congress chief, V M Sudheeran said that the UDF support to the bill had put the opposition in very bad light. He said that the people will look the opposition with suspicion.
“The party MLAs and their student wing had waged a long battle against the exploitation of students by the self-financing college lobby. The UDF has rendered them meaningless by supporting the bill in the Assembly,” he said.
Sudheeran said that the decision to back the bill was taken without any discussion in the UDF forums. He said that he had raised the issue in the last UDF meeting, but the leaders paid no heed to his suggestion.
The admission in the two colleges was conducted with scant regard to the regulations and the guidelines of the Admission Supervisory Committee (ASC) headed by Justice J.M. James. The committee had struck down the admission citing these irregularities.
It noted that colleges had refused to cooperate with the state government in the admission process or concede 50 per cent of their seats to State merit. The ASC found that the two colleges had failed to maintain the triple tests laid down by the Supreme Court and had deliberately violated the court and committee orders.
They violated the law that prohibited capitation fee and exploitative tuition charges. The colleges ignored the orders of the committee and admitted students. The high court had also found that they were not transparent even in furnishing all details regarding the admissions online.
The court even doubted the veracity of some of the documents submitted by the colleges to the ASC. The application forms did not show the name of the medical college to which the applications had been made. It also did not have either the photograph of the applicant or the signature of the applicant. There was no application date. This strengthened the doubt that the colleges had fabricated the documents to satisfy the ASC.
The students and their parents realized that the colleges had cheated them only after the Supreme Court rejected the management’s prayer to regularize the admissions. The court did not show any sympathy to either the college management or the students as it noted that the admissions were done in total violation of the regulations.
The apex court asked the managements not to talk about the bill passed by the Assembly and said that the court itself has been convinced that ‘the documents submitted by the management were fake. The court also came down heavily on the counsel of the students saying that the government deliberately did not take case against the managements for submitting fake documents.
“If the ordinance by the Kerala government is approved, other states will also follow the same,” the court noted.
Meanwhile, Health Minister K K Shylaja said that the government will respect the court verdict and decide the future course of action after detailed examination of the judgement.