SC rights a wrong on NEET verdict

SC rights a wrong on NEET verdict

With the Supreme Court recalling its 2013 judgment which had quashed the proposal for a National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), the idea of a common national test for medical admissions has been revived. The 2013 judgment had become controversial, and the court decided to review the judgment on a plea made by the government which was working towards implementation of the idea with the help of the MCI. The Constitution bench, headed by the judge who had held the dissenting view in the 2013 judgment, has now decided that the matter will be heard afresh by the court. By clearly stating that the majority view had not then taken into consideration all relevant factors and precedents, and that the members of the bench had not held any discussion before the judgment was pronounced, the court has now indicated that the earlier judgment would be subjected to critical scrutiny. 

A common national entrance test had been proposed to eliminate corruption in the form of capitation fees and donations and to spare students of the inconvenience and stress involved in attending too many tests in different places. It was also hoped that admissions based on a common test would help to improve the standards of medical education. But the managements of some private medical colleges and those run by some minorities felt that the proposal would violate their constitutional right to establish and administer institutions without interference from the government. Some states also thought that the national test would violate their rights. The majority view of the 2013 judgement upheld these contentions, relying also on some past rulings of the court. It was also noted that the proposal was being implemented in a hurry without adequate preparations, and the MCI was not legally empowered to hold such a test.

But there were stronger arguments on the other side which the court failed to fully appreciate. The Supreme Court itself had cleared the proposal for a common test in 2010. Private institutions had no genuine reason to complain because they could select candidates belonging to any group, class or category from the national list of candidates. Reservation norms could also be fully adhered to. A sound admission policy has to take into consideration the interests of students, the rights of managements and the responsibility of the government to ensure that the admission process is fair and transparent. The idea of a common entrance test is in conformity with these aims. The court has done well to do a rethinking of its earlier judgment. In effect, it has also allowed the holding of the test even this year.
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