Pvt medical colleges can't take separate entrance tests: SC

Pvt medical colleges can't take separate entrance tests: SC
 Unaided private medical colleges across the country cannot be permitted to go ahead with their pre-scheduled tests for admissions to MBBS and BDS courses in addition to the recently revived single-window entrance NEET, the Supreme Court today said.

"There is no question of allowing any exam by private institutions," a three-judge bench headed by Justice A R Dave said when some lawyers sought clarification on the fate of the entrance tests which have either been conducted or about to be held by the private colleges.

In another key development, the bench, also comprising justices Shiva Kirti Singh and Adarsh Kumar Goel, asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to take instruction from the Centre on feasibility of allowing some states, which have already conducted their separate entrance tests, to continue with the admission process for the current academic session.

It also asked Kumar to apprise it as to whether all the students, who appeared in All India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Test (AIPMT) which later became National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) on May 1, can be allowed to re-appear on NEET-II to be held on July 24.

The bench said the students, who focused on state tests believing that they had better chances of being selected and did not seriously prepare for AIPMT despite filling up the forms, should be allowed to re-appear in NEET-II.

"I cannot say it is impossible, but it would be very difficult," Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for CBSE, said and referred to the fact that over 6 lakh students appeared in NEET-I.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who represents MCI, suggested that the students cannot avail two opportunities in one examination and those, who take up tests twice, will have to forgo the ranking obtained in one of the two tests results.

The court sought views of the Centre and the CBSE when the counsel for various states including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir made fervent appeals against the NEET.

States like Gujarat and Maharashtra said the students who prepare for the state entrance tests in vernacular languages like Gujarati and Marathi would be at "disadvantage" if they are suddenly asked to take up the NEET in view of the fact that the state tests are now invalid.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Gujarat, said, "Had this NEET come six months back, I would not have said all this. At least consider deferring the NEET by one year."

He also referred to the question papers, written in Gujarati, of the entrance tests to highlight the inconvenience which could be now faced by students in suddenly taking up the NEET.

Senior advocate Shyam Diwan, appearing for Maharashtra, echoed the same views and said that moreover, the entrance examination in the state is backed by the statute which is still in force and its validity is not under challenge before the apex court.

"35 questions out of 200 in NEET-I was outside the syllabus of the Maharashtra board and such things dis entitle many students who prepare for the state test," he said, adding that the state can file an affidavit to this effect.

"Is this not changing the goal post," he asked, adding that the state, at least, be allowed to continue with its test for this academic year.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, also opposed the NEET and referred to additional legal and constitutional points to highlight that the state has special status and cannot be compelled to go for the NEET.

Jammu and Kashmir government cited constitutional provision of Article 370 read with Article 35 A and section 6 of the J&K constitution to contend that it is the state which is entitled to conduct the test and the students cannot be admitted to these courses from outside the state through NEET.

Further, on the educational aspect, only the state government has the legislative competence and Centre cannot interfere in it, he said, adding that the students, hailing, from the state, do not take up AIPMT.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhawan went a step ahead and questioned the legality of the subsequent orders passed by the court on NEET saying after recalling of the verdict, scraping the NEET, a larger bench should hear and pass further orders in the matter.

"The recall order nullifies the judgement. It is quite clear that your lordships are in great hurry... This is not the way a judgement is reviewed and recalled," Dhawan said.

At the outset, some lawyers sought clarification regarding pre-scheduled examinations, which have either been conducted or about to be held, of states and private medical colleges and referred to a report published in a leading news paper.

"Go and seek clarification from the ...paper. As of now, the (NEET) regulations are revived. The clarity would be required when there is confusion," the bench said.

The Solicitor General, during the hearing, read amended NEET notification and said they take care of the rights of minority and linguistic institutions.

The reservation policy of a particular state is not being tampered with by the NEET regulations, he said.

Earlier, the court had commenced the crucial hearing on the pleas of state governments, private medical colleges and minority institutions like CMC Vellore and Ludhiana seeking nod to hold pre-scheduled separate entrance exams for MBBS and BDS courses.

The states, opposing NEET, alleged that there are marked differences in syllabus for the state entrance tests and the NEET.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the CBSE, had said the first phase of NEET was conducted without any glitch and around 6.5 lakh students took up the test.

The apex court had on April 29, said the entrance test for admission to MBBS and BDS courses for the academic year 2016-17 will be held as per the schedule through the two- phased common entrance test NEET on May 1 and July 24.

On April 28, the court had rejected opposition for holding NEET by states, including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Association of Karnataka Medical Colleges, besides minority institutions like CMC, Vellore.

The apex court order had implied that all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET and those examinations which have already taken place or slated to be conducted separately stand scrapped.

It had also revived the government's December 21, 2010 notification for holding a single common entrance test through NEET with a clarification that any challenge on the issue would directly come before it and no high court can interfere.

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