With the fate of 633 Master of Dental Surgery (MDS) students studying in educational institutions of Karnataka hanging in the balance, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the state’s medical education secretary to explain the circumstances in which it breached the deadline of taking the admissions.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna said, “We direct the Secretary, Medical Education, of the state government to file an affidavit explaining the circumstances in which the state of Karnataka breached the deadline of November 20, 2021”.

The top court said that an affidavit by the secretary shall be filed within a period of one week.

It also asked the Centre and the Dental Council of India to also file their affidavits in the meantime.

The top court had noted that the deadline for completing admissions for Post Graduate courses in MDS for the 2021-22 Session was extended from November 10, 2021 to November 20, 2021 by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and that the Dental Council of India had adopted a similar deadline.

It had noted that Karnataka carried out the first round of counselling between December 4 and 18, 2021, while the second round of counselling was carried out between December 18 and 30, 2021 and admissions of students were made beyond the cut-off date.

At the outset, senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing on behalf of several petitioner institutions, submitted that Karnataka was exclusively entrusted with the responsibility of conducting counselling as there being no other modality for completing admissions and it was the state itself which delayed the process and carried out admissions beyond the deadline fixed by the Union government.

He said 633 students have been admitted by Karnataka albeit beyond the cut-off date and if these admissions are not regularized at the present stage, the colleges in the state will have no students for three years.

Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj, appearing on behalf of the Centre and advocate Gaurav Sharma, representing the Dental Council of India, submitted that Karnataka was aware of the fact that the cut-off date was extended only till November 20, 2021.

They said the classes have already begun for the session and there would be no occasion to extend the deadline.

Additional Advocate General Nikhil Goel, appearing for the Karnataka government, said the students were placed on notice in regard to the consequences which may ensue since the admissions are made beyond the cut-off date.

The bench said the Karnataka government has not moved any application or proceeding before this court though admittedly on December 21, 2021, its representation for extension of time was rejected by the Union government.  

“In these circumstances, we find it necessary that the State of Karnataka must explain the circumstances in which it carried out admissions beyond the deadline of November 20, 2021”, it said, and listed the matter for further hearing on January 21. 

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