Coming down hard on corruption in MBBS admissions in Madhya Pradesh between 2008 and 2012, the Supreme Court cancelled the degrees of 634 doctors on Monday and said admissions obtained through a mass fraud called "Vyapam scam" could not be condoned.
"The actions of the appellants are founded on unacceptable behaviour and in complete breach of rule of law. Their actions constitute acts of deceit... National character, in our considered view, cannot be sacrificed for benefits - individual or societal," a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices Kurian Joseph and Arun Mishra said in an 83-page judgment.
"If we desire to build a nation on the touchstone of ethics and character, and if our determined goal is to build a nation where only rule of law prevails, then we cannot accept the claim of the appellants (students) for suggested societal gains (by allowing them to keep the degrees on the condition of doing social service free of cost for some years)," the bench said.
Writing the unanimous judgment, Justice Khehar said, "We have no difficulty in concluding in favour of rule of law... Fraud cannot be allowed to trounce, on the stratagem of public good."
The court also rejected the students' plea that they were ready to refund the financial gains accrued to them through studies in highly subsidised MBBS courses in government medical colleges in comparison to fees they would have paid had they studied in private institutions.
They had argued that such a course of action would be good for society at large.
All these admissions to MBBS courses between 2008 and 2012 were cancelled by the MP Professional Examination Board. A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and AM Sapre had found them to be illegal on May 12, 2016.
While Justice Sapre had ordered cancellation of the admissions and annulling of the degrees, Justice Chelameswar had said since the students had completed their courses, it would be a national waste to annul the degrees.
Instead, Justice Chelameswar allowed them to keep their degrees provided they did social service for a certain period.
Given the split verdict, the matter was placed before a three-judge bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices Joseph and Mishra.
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