Citation: (1955) 1 SCR 1215; AIR 1955 SC 334
Case Type: Petition
Case Number: 367 of 1954
Decided On: 27th January, 1955
Court: Supreme Court of India
Bench: Constitutional Bench comprising of:
- Chief Justice Bijan Kumar Mukherjea,
- Justice Vivian Bose,
- Justice B. Jagannadhadas,
- Justice T.L. Venkatarama Aiyar and
- Justice B. P. Sinha
Petitioner: Shri D.P. Joshi
Respondent: State of Madhya Bharat and Another
Statutes Referred: Constitution of India, 1950
- Dr. Beaumont started, in the year 1878, a medical college by the name, Indore Medical School in Indore, to compliment Indore Charity Dispensary Hospital which was provided significant assistance financially from rulers of Indian States like Gwalior and turned out to be a well-established entity.
- The College claimed that several medical practitioners in different part of India like the Central India, as well as Rajasthan along with its neighboring States were mostly recruited from the college’s alumni.
- The college was renamed as “King Edward Memorial School, Indore” in 1910 and was since under the control of the management committee which decided to advance the status of the college due to which it began collecting funds and the arrangements regarding the same were completed in 1947 and after a year, the college was affiliated the Agra University and was thereafter called as “the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College”.
- The council of the college in the year 1950 requested the Government of Madhya Bharat to take over the institution, subject to certain conditions regarding the reservation of seats of nominees of certain states and donors.
- The rules of regarding college admission provided that the maximum 50 students could be admitted which were to be classified into one group of nominees and other group of ordinary students.
- The committee of the college was able to arrange funds with a promise to those who provided seven thousand rupees as contribution that they could nominate a student who would be known as a nominee, into college for admission; such nominees had to pay thirteen thousand rupees per annum as capitation fee plus the normal fees and charges. Remaining seats were kept open to self-nominees (all eligible applicants) and the required students were selected on the basis of merit from among them.
- A new rule which provided students of Madhya Bharat an exemption from the capitation fees created controversies. As the State overtook the management of the college, some rules were modified; one of which revised the rule of ‘capitation fee exemption for all Madhya Bharat students’ to a new rule which limited such exemptions only to “bona fide residents of Madhya Bharat”.
- A petition was filed under Article 32, Constitution of India by a Delhi resident student of the college in question, regarding the impugned rules infringing Article 14 as well as 15(1) of the Indian Constitution.
- Whether the impugned rule of the college is in contravention of Article 15(1) of the Constitution?
- Whether the petitioner is entitled to a writ which restrains the concerned authorities from imposing capitation fee if the said rule violates the Constitution?
- Whether a person can have a domicile of Madhya Bharat, apart from being a domicile of India?
Contention by the parties:
- Petitioner’s Contention:
- The rules enforced in the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College are discriminatory in terms of fees against the students who are non-residents of Madhya Bharat as they have to pay a capitation fee of fifteen thousand rupees in addition to their tuition fee which infringes Art 14 along with Art 15(1) of the Indian Constitution and are hence, void.
- Since the capitation fee imposed is only on some students and not others, it is discriminatory in nature and infringes Art 14 of the Constitution and thus, is void.
- The impugned rule puts foreign nationals at a more profitable stage than the citizens of India and is thus not based on any rationale or any intelligible principle due to which the rule should be discarded.
- A writ prohibiting the collection of such capitation fee is prayed along with a refund of three thousand rupees of the capitation fee of the initial years.
- Respondent’s Contention
- The origin of the institution was in private entity under the control of the management of a committee which only created the impugned rule regarding the imposition of capitation fee on non-resident students of Madhya Bharat.
- The institution in question was taken over by the State authorities with certain conditions regarding the seat reservations.
- The requirement with respect to the imposition of capitation fee from students who are not residents of Madhya Bharat did not infringe Article 14 or 15(1) of the Indian Constitution.
- ‘Domicile’ mentioned in the impugned rule should be inferred in a popular sense, as the meaning of ‘residence’, and not in a technical sense. Therefore, the rule does not infringe Article 15(1).
- The impugned rule is merely an administrative order or an executive order and should only be considered as an expression of the power of the legislative.
By the Majority of the Bench
- The rule in question splits self-nominees into a group of two- ‘bona fide’ residents and non-bon fide residents of Madhya Bharat and a capitation fees is imposed on the latter group while the former is exempted from its payment. Therefore, a classification is made according to the residential status of an individual within a state which will be adjudged according to its fair as well as substantial nexus to the object of the law.
- The impugned rule, even if it’s a law, does not infringe Article 14 of the Constitution.
- The rationale behind the impugned classification was evidently to provide aid regarding education, to some resident students of Madhya Bharat which is a legitimate object for a State legislature while enacting a law to promote education within its area of jurisdiction.
- In order to serve the goal of settlement of residents of a particular State as doctors to serve the locality needs, a concession is therefore provided to such resident students of the State. This classification, therefore, has reasonable nexus to the subject matter of the enactment and cannot be attacked.
By the Minority (Justice Jagannadhadas)
- The exact authorities of these Rules have not been elucidated clearly.
- The material placed does not throw any light upon the contention that these Rules were an executive order and do not come within the ambit of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
- The questions regarding the executive orders and whether their application can be considered as a law within the purview of Article 14 have not been sufficiently presented before the bench.
- There is a clear discrimination between the groups regarding the capitation fee which affects one group adversely.
- There cannot an intelligible basis with respect to grouping of students by imputing the meaning of residence or of permanent home to the word ‘domicile’.
- The phrase ‘original domicile in Madhya Bharat’ cannot be inferred to indicate the applicant’s residence or his/her permanent home in Madhya Bharat and is to be normally connoted to those who were born in Madhya Bharat.
- Domicile is that part of the status of an individual which fixes the personal laws by which an individual is governed and on which such personal laws will depend.
- “Domicile of origin in Madhya Bharat” means the “place of birth” of a student applicant.
- The impugned rule does infringe Article 15 of the Indian Constitution as well as Article 14 since there can be no reasonable classification attached to the same.
- The State Government of Madhya Bharat was not valid to impose capitation fees on student-petitioner with regard to the impugned rule.
- The court did not witness the arguments regarding regional domicile, different from domicile of India, at the hearing of the matter with respect to the impugned rule.
- The phrase ‘domicile of origin of a person’ is to be understood as a domicile which is received by a person at his birth but it need not be the nation in which the person was born, or the nation which is the person’s nationality. A domicile is considered as a permanent home of a person.
- The terms ‘residence’ and ‘place of birth’ are two different concepts with distinct implications in terms of law as well as in fact.
- Since the phrases ‘domicile of birth’ and ‘place of birth’ cannot be used as replacements, therefore, the prohibition against discrimination provided under Article 15(1) of the Constitution cannot be applied on the basis of place of birth to domicile based discrimination.
- Citizenship and domicile are different concepts due to which an Indian state can enact a law according to domicile of people within their area and it will not hamper the single citizenship concept for the whole nation.
- Citizenship as a concept is connected with the political status of an individual whereas the concept of domicile is connected with civil rights.
- The concept of domicile is referred to the law system due to which people are governed. Therefore, when the phrase ‘the domicile of a country’ is used, it is assumed that all over the country that same law system conquers. However, in cases of succession and marriage, laws might be different in different States, thus; each State would be considered as a country itself, having different laws, for the object of domicile.
- According to Entry 5, List III of the Indian Constitution, the power to enact laws on issues of succession, marriage as well as on minority has been given to the Parliament as well as the State Legislatures. Thus, till the time the Union does not legislate a uniform code for the entire nation, every State will continue to have its separate laws on such issues due to which there can be different domiciles for such States.
- A person will acquire the domicile of that part of a State where he resides, if that State has more than a single law system.
- According to Art 5 of the Constitution of India, citizenship is conferred on an individual on the basis of the status of a particular citizen of India; the domicile of a person is not enough for the same.
- Petition dismissed with no costs.
The present case was the first of the many cases where the issue regarding the constitutional validity of reservations based on domicile was challenged and is therefore, of considerable significance since after the initial reservation in medical college, various law colleges have also been adopting similar reservation policies.
Though it was clear that there was a discriminatory rule, the majority bench upheld the validity of the impugned rule since it did not infringe Article 15 of the Indian Constitution due to the distinction between ‘place of birth’ and ‘place of residence’ while taking into consideration the meaning of domicile.
Prepared by Nikita Sethi