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NEET: Govt may file review plea

New Delhi, July 19, 2013, DHNS: 2:52 IST
The Union Health Ministry plans to file a review petition in the Supreme Court in which the top court will be requested to have a relook at its verdict cancelling the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental education.

“We are very upset (over the judgment). I have asked the officials to study the order to decide on the future course of action,’’ Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said here on Friday.

Ministry sources told Deccan Herald that a review petition was inevitable to get rid of a perception that the ministry was siding with private medical colleges who collect lakhs of rupees from students as tuition and capitation fee for MBBS and PG seats.

Notwithstanding the dissenting note of Justice Anil R Dave, the Health Ministry might be on a shaky ground even in the review petition because the judgment did not question the merit of NEET, sources said.

It may also take several months to decide on the review petition.

The ruling only said the Medical Council of India (MCI), as a regulator of medical education, was not legally empowered to conduct the common entrance examination.

The minister said the Supreme Court merely said the MCI should not conduct exams but did not say who else should conduct the tests. “It would lead to problems for those aspiring for medical degrees. Students across the country now have to run from pillar to post,” Azad said.

He said legal recourse was the only option available and the Health Ministry had sought legal opinion on the judgment.

The apex court had previously allowed the MCI and the Dental Council of India to issue notifications for conducting the examination and gave green signals to go ahead with the examination process. A bench of justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik disposed of a bunch of petitions challenging the NEET after the MCI assured the court all rules had been put in place and the Central Board of Secondary Education would conduct the examination.

The option available with the ministry, sources said, might be to amend the Indian Medical Council Act of 1956, giving MCI legal powers to facilitate students’ entry into medical education. Subsequently, a new outfit can be created for conducting the common entrance examination.

While former Chief Justice of India Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Vikramjit Sen pointed out the MCI’s lack of legal authority for conducting the NEET, Justice Dave held a different view.

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