AIZAWL, Aug 29: The Gauhati High Court on Tuesday vacated its stay order on the amended Mizoram State Technical Entrance Examination (STEE) rules to allow the Mizoram Government to complete the process of MBBS admission for students it had already selected. The Mizoram Chakma Students’ Union (MCSU) had challenged the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) (Sixth Amendment) Rules, 2015, which were notified on March 24 that year. The new rules placed “Zo-Ethnic people who are native inhabitants” in Category I of the State’s selection criteria, by which they are given first preference to fill up available seats under the State’s quota in various colleges across India. The 1999 rules were amended after the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (Mizo Students’ Association) protested against the selection of Chakma students under Category I to pursue medical and engineering courses under the Mizoram quota. 

Following a writ petition by the Chakma students’ union, the Gauhati High Court had stayed the new rules on June 24, 2016. The High Court also sent a record of the petition to its Aizawl bench for a final hearing. The Aizawl bench of the Gauhati High Court, in a judgement issued late on Tuesday evening, said that despite the case having been listed on many dates, no one appeared for the petitioners. Therefore, the petition was dismissed by default and the stay order of June 24, 2016, has also been vacated. After vacation of the stay order, the Mizoram Government filled up 75 per cent of the MBBS quota as per the new rules, excluding Chakma students under Category I. 

However, in June this year, the petitioners filed an application for restoration of the writ petition. The court restored the petition in August. The court also restored the June 24, 2016 stay order. The court pointed out that the filling up of 75 per cent seats for MBBS by the Mizoram Government after dismissal of the Chakma students’ petition was not mentioned in the application for restoration of the writ petition. “We cannot allow the remaining vacant seats go wasted due to pendency of the writ petition, which was dismissed in default and subsequently restored,” the judgement said, adding: “We also at this stage do not find it proper to turn the clock back by interfering with the admissions already made after dismissal of the writ petition.” While allowing the Mizoram Government to go ahead with the process of MBBS admission, the High Court stated that all admissions shall be subject to the final decision on the writ petition. The court fixed October 4, 2018 for the final hearing on the petition. 

Before the amendment, Category I of the STEE included children of local permanent residents of Mizoram. The term ‘local permanent residents’ means those who are indigenous people of the State of Mizoram and have been residing permanently in the State. As per the previous Rules, the Chakmas came under Category I. The MCSU alleged that the Government’s modification of the STEE Rules amounts to discrimination of the minority communities of Mizoram, including the Chakmas. 

The decision to modify or rectify the definitions in the STEE Rules is nothing but racial discrimination to deliberately exclude the Chakmas from their rightful place in Category I, it had said. -  Assam Tribune

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