The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that states are empowered to make special provisions for reservation of seats for in-service doctors in postgraduate medical courses, PTI reported.

A five-judge Constitution bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran, Indira Banerjee, MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose said that the Medical Council of India is a statutory body and has no power to make provisions for reservations. The MCI’s regulation that barred such reservation is arbitrary and unconstitutional, the court said.

The judges suggested that states may ask beneficiaries of the quota to serve in rural, tribal or hilly areas for five years and also clarified that the judgement will apply only for future admissions, according to Live Law.

The admission to postgraduate degree courses are conducted through the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test and 50% seats are filled through all India quota and the remaining 50% from state quota.

Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association and others had filed a petition, saying that granting reservation benefits would encourage those working in government hospitals and in rural areas. They challenged the validity of the Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, framed by the MCI. The in-service candidates said that they work round the clock for the benefit of the public and cannot find time to update their knowledge and compete with the general candidates.

However, the Centre and the medical body had opposed the petition. They argued that granting reservations or a separate source of entry for in-service candidates would directly impinge on the authority of MCI to coordinate and determine standards of medical education.