The Supreme Court on Wednesday scrapped an ordinance promulgated by the Kerala government in October 2017 to legalise the admission of 180 medical students, LiveLaw reported.

In March 2017, the court had cancelled the admission of the 180 students, admitted in 2016-’17, after the State Admission Supervisory Committee for Professional Colleges reported “discrepancies in the admission process”. It had told the government to expel the students – 150 from Kannur Medical College and 30 from Karuna Medical College in Palakkad.

To override this judgement, the government brought in an ordinance in October 2017 and a bill in April called the Kerala Professional Colleges (Regularisation of Admission in Medical Colleges) Bill. The Kerala governor, however, witheld his assent to the bill. The ordinance was challenged by the Medical Council of India in the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indu Malhotra struck down the ordinance as “ultra vires” or beyond the legal power of the state government. The court observed that the ordinance was an “abuse of process” and an attempt to interfere with the judiciary’s powers.

The case

In a verdict in 2016, the Kerala High Court had cancelled the admissions, and said that the admission procedure at the two colleges – Kannur Medical College and Karuna Medical College in Palakkad – was not transparent. The court said the colleges had admitted the 180 students instead of more meritorious ones. The Supreme Court later upheld the High Court’s verdict, and rejected the state government’s review petition on March 28.

On April 5, the court stayed the ordinance from coming into operation, citing constitutional loopholes. The court did not comment on the bill – which the Assembly had passed by then – as the governor had yet to approve it. Kerala Governor P Sathasivam refused to approve the bill a few days later.

The government has claimed that the objective of the bill was to save the academic lives of innocent students. Two official panels and the Medical Council of India had earlier declared the ordinance illegal.