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Domicile is the place of permanent residence of a person. It means the place where the person resides. The concept of domicile reservation is basically implemented to favor people on the basis of his or her residence. Through the process of domicile, the reservation state government can reserve seats for students domiciled in a particular state. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam also stated that education is a vital element for determining the growth and prosperity of the country. Law regarding domicile reservation has been looked by the single judge of the Uttarakhand High Court and the court was of the opinion that separate domicile concept for each state is not present, indeed only one domicile concept is there for the entire country. The concept of regional domicile reservation acts as an enemy to the Indian legal system and defeats the fundamental rights as mentioned in the Constitution of India. Moreover, personal laws are different because of different religions and not because of different regions. Therefore, if we call our country a place of unity in diversity then, domicile reservations imposed by the state legislature is not worth it from the point of view of the whole country.
MEANING OF DOMICILE-
As per the Black’s Law dictionary, domicile means to have one’s residence or to settle permanently or continuously.
The word residing is also associated with the word domicile and as per the oxford dictionary residing means to dwell permanently. A casual stay or flying visit to any particular place is not considered in the purview of the definition or meaning of domiciled resident. Supreme Court also interpreted the word “ordinarily resident” while deriving the meaning of domicile.
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF DOMICILE BASED RESERVATION-
Article 29(1)of the Indian constitution states that no person shall be denied admission into any educational institute maintained by state or receiving aid out of state funds on grounds only of religion, caste, race, language.
Article 45 of the directive principles of state policy makes the following provision under the constitution that the state shall endeavor to provide for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years within a period of 10 years from the commencement of the constitution. Article 45 of the constitution clearly directs that universal, free and compulsory education becomes the joint responsibility of the center and the states.
Article 16 of the constitution clearly states that no citizen shall be discriminated against in respect of any employment or office only on the grounds of place of residence. As per this article, there should be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters related to employment or appointment to any office under the state. Therefore, it is clear from the above-mentioned statement that education is a matter which is directly related to future employment and lessening the opportunity of education for students of different states dwindles the equality of opportunity for the citizens residing in states other than the domiciled states as per section 16(1) of the constitution. Thus, granting 100% domicile reservation by MP government for PG medical admissions is susceptible to constitutional challenges when it is applied in entirety to the private medical colleges.
Though article 16(3) permits for making laws in government appointments regarding residence and not a place of birth but the parliament is empowered to prescribe residence within the state or union territory as a condition for certain admissions or appointments in a particular state and not the state legislature. State governments generally fund and manage the colleges within their territory and state government carries such function with loyalty to the federal structure and thereby state government has the power to make the laws that are favorable to the students residing in its state.
POINTS IN FAVOR OF RESERVATION BASED ON DOMICILE-
Some people argue that by giving preference to the residents of the state guarantees the rightful allocation of resources of the state and encourages people of the state to work hard to get admissions in the colleges situated within the boundary limits of the state. Another argument which is noteworthy is that language test determines the apprehending efficiency of the candidate relating to the local language of the state as it would be easier for the student to coordinate with the peer group of the state if he or she gets the admission in the medical colleges of his or her domiciled state.
V.N. SUNANDA REDDY AND ORS. VS. STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH AND ORS.-
In this case, state government’s policy granted 5% extra weightage to candidates who studied the Telugu language as a medium of instruction. Supreme Court observed that article 14 read with Article 16(1) of the constitution would render the policy of state government as unconstitutional.
Article 19(g) of the Indian constitution states that a person can practice any profession, or can carry any occupation, trade or business. This means that students pursuing the medical field or medical profession have the right to practice that profession without any interference.
Sub-Section 6 of article 19 states that nothing in sub-clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes reasonable restriction while exercising a right conferred in a said sub-clause.
Article 14 of the Indian constitution also clearly mentions that the state cannot deny equality before the law to any person within the territory of India. Therefore, the policy of the Madhya Pradesh government is contrary to the provision mentioned in article 14 of the constitution as it does not provide equal opportunity to the students of other states for getting admission in PG medical colleges. Rights under article 14 of the Indian constitution are absolute as it states cannot frame laws that are discriminatory between two persons. Moreover, these 2 fundamental rights are not exclusive to the citizens of India but to any person.
RECOMMENDATION BY KOTHARI COMMISSION (1964-66)-
Kothari commission recommended that the central government should take responsibility in education for equalization of educational opportunities with special reference to reduction of inter-state differences and advancement of weaker sections of the community.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION-
For instituting this commission, the definition of equal opportunity is to be taken into account. Equal opportunity means the measure by which a person can achieve parity relating to conditions such as employment, education, health care, livelihood, and other entitlements.
For inculcating the practice of equal opportunity, some necessary steps should be taken for the elimination of direct and indirect discrimination against deprived groups. Along with rthe elimination of direct and indirect discrimination, the policies such as equal access to education and employment must be implemented.
In a democratic country, every student has a right to get admission into top-notch premium institutes if they work hard and therefore, such a democratic setup of the country does not give privilege to state government to reserve seats for residents living within its territory. Moreover, private medical colleges are not funded by the government and therefore, the government should not interfere in the matter related to admissions in private medical colleges as it would hamper the fundamental right of citizens such as the right to life and personal liberty as given under the article 21 of the constitution of India.
While quoting about the 48% reservation quota for Delhi graduates for admission to pg medical colleges, the Supreme Court referred to the case of Jagadish Saran v. Union of India. I this case the court stated that the practice of reservation by other universities prejudiced Delhi students’ chances. This discrimination needs to be corrected by some percentage of reservation.
When we say “Union of India” we basically refer to holistically ensuring the benefits to each and every section of the society. Every person must be given what he deserves to achieve the basic philosophy of human existence. Though some reservation seems to be important for the socio-political condition in India but reservations on the basis of residence in the state for granting admissions to pg medical colleges would be highly discriminatory.
ISSUES RELATED TO DOMICILE RESERVATION-
Some states like MP, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Manipur etc. do not have institutes that offer super-specialty medical courses; therefore, students residing in these states do not have adequate opportunity to get admission in the pg medical colleges of their own states. So, it becomes important to eliminate the issues which arise due to domicile reservation.
Geographical classification is not at all based on any scientific study; it is only based on assumptions that are not relevant. Thus, weightage which is given on the basis of domicile in the process of selection is violative of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
VISHAL GOYAL AND ORS. V. STATE OF KARNATAKA AND ORS.-
In this case, Supreme Court held the domiciliary requirements in state government medical colleges to be ultra vires of Article 14 of the constitution. Further, this opinion of the court also relied on the similar case of Dr. Pradeep Jain and Ors. V. Union of India and court stated that considering the residential status of the student will violate Article 14 of the Constitution and will be detrimental to the interests of the nation.
NEED TO AVOID DOMICILE BASED INSTITUTIONAL RESERVATION IN THE ERA OF GLOBALIZATION-
In the period of globalization, the country needs to compete with other countries in order to stand out among the developed nations and to develop the nation; the narrow-minded mentality has to be kept away. If such domicile reservation continues within the nation then, we cannot expect the nation to grow on an international level as some of the cream students in our country who deserve good quality education from premium institutes are being denied of an appropriate opportunity to educate them and to contribute to the growth of the nation in future.
The court struck down the requirement of completing 10 years of academics in Karnataka and held it as being contrary to the judgment given in the case of Dr. Pradeep Jain. The court also constrained the power of the state to regulate the particular area within its territorial or jurisdictional limits on the basis of domicile reservation.
Recently, in one of the cases of the National Law University Amendment Act, 2020, the division bench held that only the executive council is empowered to decide on the aspect or matter related to the reservation of 25% of seats in NLS for students of Karnataka. Autonomous institutions do not come within the ambit of state government regulation.
SURVEY OF MINISTRY OF EDUCATION REGARDING DOMICILE RESERVATION-
The survey conducted by the ministry of education indicates that many students pursue their profession in different states, therefore; it would be unfair to take into account or consider the concept of domicile reservation.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF CONNECTION BETWEEN CLASSIFICATION BASED ON DOMICILE AND GOAL OF SUPPORTING BACKWARD SECTIONS-
Supreme Court considered 2 criteria while establishing a connection between classifications based on domicile and goal of supporting poorer sections of state and these 2 criteria are as follows-
- Note of difference in standards of education between states is to be taken into account.
- Note of access to sufficient resources for pursuing higher education is also to be taken into account.
If these 2 conditions are not in favor of students of any particular state as compared to other states then, students of such state can be provided adequate educational opportunities for fostering the growth and development of students of such state so that these students can in future help in the development of their own state by exhibiting and utilizing the knowledge which they gained during their tenure of education for guiding new generations or youths of such state.
In general, backwardness has nothing to do with the people residing in the state and looking for the opportunity to get admissions in premium institutes. It is by virtue that some of the overriding powers of the state legislature as per the constitution, which allows it to frame the provision relating to the matter of the list II and III of 7th schedule but the ambit under which such laws are made by the state legislature is of the whole Indian legal system and therefore, the national importance cannot be ignored.
CONCERN OVER PLACE OF BIRTH AND PLACE OF RESIDENCE-
Many students are not sure of their domicile as they are dependent on their parents and some people often have to settle in different states due to the transfer in their jobs and because of this such people have to face social, economic, and cultural change and therefore, place of birth will be considered as domicile in this situation. But again we can put forward an argument that since the parent of a student is working in different states then, the student should also get the opportunity to get admission in the colleges of such states wherever his or her father is settling due to his job.
The social strata of a person is defined with the help of his or her education and employment and thus, every citizen must be provided equal opportunity to express himself or herself well in the domain of education and employment and thereby getting respect from the society in return for the work or the job which he or she is doing for contributing indirectly to the GDP of the nation as a whole. Article 5 of the Indian Constitution provides for the citizenship in India and domicile of India before the commencement of the Constitution and first priority should be given to the domicile on the basis of nationality and not on the basis of state domicile because India is a socialist, democratic and secular country and if state domicile will be given priority then the provisions or sole motive of the Constitution of India would be defeated.
Medical students must be provided adequate opportunities to get admissions into premium medical institutes as they are going to determine the future of medicine in our country. We know that the condition in some of the rural areas of the country is worse and the people living in those rural areas also mention about the shortage of proper medical facilities in their area whenever they are being interviewed by the reporter. Education is a matter which has significance and appears in both the union list as well as concurrent list thereby, it also confers power upon the union government to look into the matter not only on state government. Moreover, the powers in the federal structure are cooperative in nature, and powers are distributed and exercised in a cooperative manner between the center and state governments. Article 258 of the constitution clearly empowers the union government to delegate the powers to state governments in certain matters. Thus, I would like to conclude that granting of 100% domicile reservation by MP government for admission to PG medical colleges is both justified as well as unjustified to some extent as there are some points which are in favor of the decision of state government and some points are contrary to the decision taken by the state government regarding domicile reservation. It all depends on the perspective with which the person looks the concern and everyone in our country has the right to freedom of speech and expression as given under article 19 of the Indian constitution therefore, different opinions of people should be taken into consideration and necessary amendments if possible can be made regarding prevailing laws in the above-mentioned matter which can suit to the opinions of all kinds of people, it does not matter whether the person is rich or poor, domicile or non-domicile etc.
 Reservations based on place of birth, available at: https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-news-analysis/reservations-based-on-place-of-birth (last visited on october 16, 2021
 12 Major constitutional Provisions on Education in India, available at : https://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/constitution/12-major-constitutional-provisions-on-education-in-india/45230 (last visited on October 17, 2021)
 Reservation on the basis of State Domicile: A Practice Unfair to People and Unexpected of Governments, available at: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2020/07/15/reservation-on-the-basis-of-state-domicile-a-practice-unfair-to-people-and-unexpected-of-governments/ (last visited on October 18, 2021)
 What are the Flaws in the Justifications of Domicile Reservation, available at: https://www.newsclick.in/flaws-in-domicile-reservation (last visited on October 19, 2021)
 Reservation on the basis of State Domicile: A Practice uUnfair to People and Unexpected of Governments, available at: https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2020/07/15/reservation-on-the-basis-of-state-domicile-a-practice-unfair-to-people-and-unexpected-of-governments/ (last visited on October 20, 2021)
Author: Harshraj Singh Rathore, (School of Law, UPES, Dehradun)
Editor: Kanishka Vaish, Senior Editor, LexLife India.