The Bombay High Court has held that Maharashtra Government or any University in the State can prescribe higher standards of examination than laid down by the Dental Council of India for passing MDS course.
"It is open to a State University to prescribe a higher standard which will not impinge on or have an adverse effect on the standards of education in institutes of Higher Education," observed Justice D Y Chandrachud in a recent order.
"Where a minimum is laid down by a body constituted under central legislation, a State University cannot lower those standards. But the prescription of a higher standard of passing would sub-serve the purpose of excellence of education" Justice Chandrachud said.
This principle does not merely apply to matters of eligibility for admission but also applies to the standard of passing.
The minimum standard which has been prescribed by the Dental Council of India provides that a candidate must receive 50 per cent marks in the aggregate (150 out of 300 in four papers).
This may consequently result in a situation where a candidate secures extremely poor marks in one or more subjects which are counter balanced by marks awarded in other subjects such that the overall marks equal or exceed 150 out of 300.
"If Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) has in the interest of maintaining and improving the standard of dental education prescribed that a student must secure at least 50 marks in each of the four papers, that would not lower the standard of education in dental education", opined the Judge.
"Ultimately, that is the test that is now enunciated by Supreme Court in cases such as this", the judge observed.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by Jasmin Rupani who had appeared for MDS final examination in June 2012 in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics at Y.M.T. Dental College, Navi Mumbai.
In the results declared on August 4, the petitioner was declared to have failed the examination as she did not secure 50 per cent in every paper. She applied for revaluation on August 7, 2012, of which results are pending.
In these proceedings, the petitioner had challenged the legality and validity of the Rules framed by MUHS in regard to the standard of passing on the ground that they are contrary to rules framed by Dental Council of India.
The DCI rules prescribed that a candidate shall secure an aggregate of 50 per cent marks in the theory examination comprising four subjects of 75 marks each.
However, MUHS stipulated that every candidate has to secure a minimum of 50 per cent marks in each paper of the theory examination and a minimum of 50 per cent marks in the practicals.
According to the petitioner, the standard of passing which has been prescribed by MUHS is inconsistent with the criteria for passing stipulated by the Dental Council of India and is, therefore, unlawful.
The petitioner submitted that under the criteria prescribed by Dental Council of India, a candidate has to secure 50 per cent of the total marks allotted (150 out of 300 for the theory examination) and it is not necessary that a candidate should secure 50 per cent marks in every paper.
By stipulating these rules, MUHS has acted contrary to the norms stipulated by Dental Council of India, the petitioner argued.
The High Court, however, opined that prescription of a higher norm does not adversely affect the standards prescribed by a central body acting under Central legislation.
What is impermissible for the State is to lower the standards of education prescribed under Central legislation, the Judge said while dismissing the petition.