By – Gunjan
|NAME OF THE CASE||Farzana Batool v. Union of India|
|CITATION||Writ Petition (Civil) No. 364 of 2021|
|DATE OF THE CASE||9 April 2021|
|RESPONDENTS||Union of India and others|
|BENCH/JUDGES||Justice D.Y. Chandrachud Justice M.R. Shah|
|LEGAL PROVISIONS||Article 32 of the Indian Constitution Part III of the Indian Constitution|
The present case brings light to the fact that the right to pursue higher education is not a governmental largesse. The case originated in the Union Territory of Ladakh where two students were nominated for admission into the MBBS degree course under the ‘central pool’. However, these students were not admitted to their respective colleges. The Court was of the opinion that though professional education is not included under fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India but the state has the obligation to expedite education in its entirety and ordered that the petitioners should be admitted to their respective colleges.
“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows” – Sydney J. Harris.
Education is a road to enlightenment. It helps a man to bloom. It is an innovation to the developed society as well as the country. It is a powerful weapon for the socially and economically backward individual to not only get out of the circle but rise to the highest level of society. Although, in India many people are deprived of this potent equipment on the various basis such as caste, class, race, gender, place of birth, etc. because of this the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine. The judicial decision in the case of Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka also stated that ‘the right to education flows directly from the right to life. The right to life and the dignity of an individual cannot be assured unless it is accompanied by the right to education.’
However, such provisions are not evident in the Constitution of India for higher or professional education due to which many students suffer. This particular matter is discernible in the case Farzana Batool v. Union of India. In this case, two students residing in Ladakh were nominated for admission in MBBS colleges by the Administration of Ladakh under the ‘central pool’ seats. However, the admission was not granted and the students reached the door of the apex court which directed the authorities to grant admission to the nominated students within a week of the court’s decision.
A missive was circulated by the Government of India through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on April 9, 2020, in which guidelines for the allocation of the general pool for the MBBS/BDS course for the year 2020-2021 was issued. The Department of Health and Family Welfare through its notification on November 23, 2020, earmarked one seat for the college Lady Hardinge Medical College and one seat for Maulana Azad Medical College to the Union Territory of Ladakh from the central pool. On 19th February 2021, the Director of Health Services, Ladakh promulgated a list consisting of the name of the nominated students that were to be admitted in the central pool medical seats for the year 2020-2021.
However, two candidates namely Ms. Farzana Batool and Mr. Mohammed Mehdi Waziri were deprived of the opportunity to be admitted to their respective colleges. These two candidates were nominated by the Administration of Union Territory of Ladakh under the ‘central pool’ that was separated by the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare. However, these students were not admitted to their allotted colleges. Therefore, a writ petition was filed by the two candidates under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.
A notice was issued by the court on March 26, 2021, in which the Union of India was represented by Mr. Rupinder Singh Suri, Additional Solicitor General while Mr. KM Nataraj, Additional Solicitor General represented the Administration of Ladakh who supported the contention and stated that the allocation has been made to these students and there is no reasonable ground on which their admission can be denied.
FACTS OF THE CASE
A memorandum was issued by the Government of India through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) with the prescribed rules for the allocation of the general pool MBBS/BDS seats for 2020-2021. Through a communication dated 19 February 2021 issued by the Administration of the Union Territory of Ladakh, the Director of Health Services, Ladakh (DHSL) forwarded the list of selected candidates from Ladakh to be admitted in the central pool medical seats for the year 2020-2021.
However, two of the students namely: Ms. Farzana Batool and Mr. Mohammed Mehdi Waziri were not given admission to the college’s Lady Hardinge Medical College and Maulana Azad Medical College respectively. These two students were selected for admission in the MBBS courses by the Administration of Union Territory of Ladakh under the focal pool put aside by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Two writ petitions were filed by Ms. Farzana Batool & Mr. Mohammad Mehdi Waziri under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution seeking directions to facilitate the students to be admitted in their respective colleges allocated by the central pool. 
ISSUES RAISED BEFORE THE COURT
- Whether fundamental rights include right to higher or professional education?
- Whether it is appropriate to curb the caliber of a student on the basis of caste, class, gender, religion, disability & geographical region?
- Whether it is fair to the students to deprive them of the professional education even though they are nominated under the central pool?
Arguments from the Appellant Side:
- Despite of the fact that the petitioners were nominated by the Administration of Ladakh and according to the guidelines laid by the Government of India, they were denied admission to their respective colleges.
- The petitioner contented that her right to higher and professional education was denied on the basis of caste, class, race, place of birth, etc.
- It was also argued that other selected students were admitted in their allotted colleges.
- The petitioner also argued that Right to Professional Education although not spelled out in the Constitution of India but should be considered as the Fundamental Right of the citizens.
Arguments from the Respondent Side:
- It was argued that Right to Higher Education is not a Fundamental Right.
- It was also stated that the students were not financially stable to be admitted in their respective colleges.
- However, Additional Solicitors General Rupinder Singh Suri who argued for the Union of India while K M Nataraj argued for the Government of Union Territory of Ladakh. They also emphasis the fact that there is no lawful justification for the denial of the admission of the students who were nominated according to the guidelines.
PROVISION RELATED TO THE CASE
Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred in Part III
(1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III is guaranteed
(2) The Supreme Court shall have the power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred in Part III
(3) Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clauses (1) and (2), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause (2)
(4) The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution.
The case Farzana Batool v. Union of India takes the lid off from the gospel that pursuing professional education is not the government’s bounty. In this case, two students from Ladakh filed a writ petition to the Supreme Court as they were not granted admission despite of the fact that they were nominated by the Administration of Union Territory of Ladakh for the MBBS studies under the central pool kept separated by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The court adjures that the admission formalities of the two petitioners Farzana Batool and Mr. Mohammed Mehdi Waziri should be completed in their respective colleges or within seven days of the day of the judgment.
The court contemplated that professional education is the requisite of student life and therefore they should be provided with the wholesome environment to prosper. The court also spotlighted the term “accessibility” which is an essential part of the educational world. The court emphasizes that the accessibility of education should be on the basis of the caliber of the student and not on the basis of the financial status of the student. The court welcomed the notion of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR Committee) which highlighted two components of ‘accessibility’. First, is the guarantee of non-discrimination, in relation to which it notes that “education must be accessible to all, especially the most vulnerable groups, in law and fact, without discrimination on any of the prohibited grounds”. The second, economic accessibility, meaning that the state party must take steps to ensure that financial constraints do not come in the way of accessing education.
The growth of the student should not be hampered on the basis of caste, class, race, economic status, geographical region, etc. Therefore, the court held that “While the right to pursue higher (professional) education has not been spelled out as a fundamental right in Part III of the Constitution, it bears emphasis that accesses to professional education is not a governmental largesse. Instead, the State has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education, at all levels.”
The court concluded its decision by ordering the admission of the two petitioners in the college’s Lady Hardinge Medical College and Maulana Azad Medical College as there was no reason or justification for the denial of the admission as they were nominated by the Administration of Ladakh under the ‘central pool’. The Supreme court directs to also look into the matter of the other seven students whose names were there in the Annexure A list so they don’t have to face the hardship to move to the court for a similar matter and resolve it sooner. Moreover, the court directed for the appointment of the nodal officers so that the students nominated under the ‘central pool’ seats were allotted seats for their desired course.
In the case of Farzana Batool v. Union of India, the Court hears two pleas filed by Farzana Batool and Mr. Mohammed Mehdi Waziri under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution for admission in their respective colleges for the MBBS studies. Two students from Ladakh who were nominated by the Administration of Ladakh under the ‘central pool’ were denied admission in their respective colleges for their desired courses. The apex court held that “While the right to pursue higher (professional) education has not been spelled out as a fundamental right in Part III of the Constitution, it bears emphasis that accesses to professional education is not a governmental largesse. Instead, the State has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education, at all levels.”
As I reckon the right to education be it elementary or higher is a human right and therefore, the judgment, in this case, opens the door of the court for the students who aspire to pursue higher or professional education. The court also emphasis on the financial issues and the discrimination that hamper the student’s growth. The students should be proselytized to study and the court has taken the necessary steps to fulfill this aspiration in this case.
 Legal Services India http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1925/Right-to-Education [last visited on January 19, 2022]
 Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka 1992 AIR 1858.
 Law Essential https://lawessential.com/m%26a-deals-%26-cases-archive/f/farzana-batool-v-union-of-india-uoi-and-ors [last visited on January 19, 2022]
 Article 32(4) in The Constitution of India 1949
 Edu Legal https://www.edulegal.org/blog/right-to-higher-education-not-fundamental-right/ [last visited on January 20, 2022]
 Law Essential https://lawessential.com/m%26a-deals-%26-cases-archive/f/farzana-batool-v-union-of-india-uoi-and-ors [last visited on January 20, 2022]
 Supra note 12