Najih Sarfraz Khalid’s 99.3 percentile NEET scores meant he could get admission to any top university, which he did when he got himself into a prestigious medical college in Puducherry. It was all right till another student, Saminathan S, found a glitch in his application and approached authorities.
Mr Khalid was found to have claimed residency in two states – Kerala and Puducherry – a fact which as per Union Territory admission norms rendered his admission liable to be cancelled. When the authorities did not pay heed to Saminathan’s complaint, he approached the Madras High Court.
A single judge bench of Madras High Court on Wednesday asked the Puducherry government and the Union Health Ministry to take an “appropriate decision” on his admission. As of now, Mr Khalid’s fate at college still hangs in balance.
Citing the reason for reverting the matter back to the admission authorities, Justice CV Karthikeyan, the presiding judge, said in the judgment, “They had offered him a seat. Now they will have to take an appropriate decision. It is not for the Court to advise a public servant regarding their duty. They will have to abide by their rules.”
Mr Khalid is currently a first-year MBBS student in Puducherry campus of Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER). His admission came under question when 18-year-old Saminathan alleged that Khalid had claimed nativity in Puducherry as well as Kerala for admission before the concerned authorities.
According to the admission norm, a student cannot claim nativity in more than one state in an academic year while applying for admission to medical colleges.
Mr Saminathan, who secured a seat in Karaikal campus of JIPMER, considered secondary to the Puducherry campus, demanded that Mr Khalid’s admission should be cancelled because he misled the authorities by filing a false affidavit.
Mr Saminathan also demanded his transfer to Puducherry campus on the seat presently occupied by Mr Khalid.
Though Mr Khalid had denied any wrongdoing, when it was established that he violated the nativity norm, the Department of Medical Education (DME) of Puducherry filed an affidavit and said that only the Directorate General of Health Services, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) could cancel the admission. The MoHFW pleaded to the court to take an appropriate decision.
Now the high court has put the issue back to both authorities saying, “A student, a native of Puducherry had been denied medical education only owing to the careless attitude of the respondents herein. This Court cannot cancel the seat of the said student but can direct the respondents to take necessary action on the basis of the declaration that the fifth respondent (Najih Sarfraz Khalid) had obtained a seat through a false declaration.”
The court asked both authorities to take appropriate action both with respect to Mr Khalid as well as Saminathan and communicate it to them within a period of 10 working days from the date of receipt of a copy of the order.
In 2022, the Madras High Court, while adjudicating a similar matter, had asked the Centralised Admission Committee (CENTAC) of Puducherry to publish in its prospectus that a specific undertaking must be given by both the candidate and the parent/guardian that the candidate had not opted and claimed the benefit of residence of admission in Undergraduate medical in any other State or Union Territory other than Puducherry.
Mr Khalid had given the said undertaking but it turned out to be misleading as he had made a claim of being native of Kerala as well.
Medical education counsellors say that students should be aware of the consequences of claiming nativity in more than one state as such activities block medical seats and create hindrance in the admission of other eligible candidates.
“As a certain percentage of seats are reserved under residency quota for the benefit of local students, many students claiming to have dual nativity try to take that advantage in more than one state. Students should learn from the Najih case that misleading and false undertakings might ruin their career,” Panchapakesan Ganesan, a Puducherry-based medical education counsellor, said.