NEET only option for admission to medical courses across India, rules SC

New Delhi : In a set-back to some states and private medical colleges who were trying to wriggle out of NEET, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to modify its April 28 order making NEET mandatory for admission to undergraduate medical courses across the country for the academic year 2016-2017.

Holding that “Prima facie, we do not find any infirmity in the NEET regulation on the ground that it affects the rights of the states or the private institutions”, a bench of Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice Adarsh Kumsr Goel said that they found “no merit” in the applications seeking modification of it April 28 order making NEET only route for admission to medical colleges.

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Addressing the submission in respect of reservation of any category or that of rights of minority institutions, the bench, in its order, said: “Special provisions for reservation of any category are not subject matter of the NEET nor rights of minority are in any manner affected by NEET.”

“NEET only provides for conducting entrance test for eligibility for admission to the MBBS/BDS course.”

However, the bench made one exception permitting the students who had appeared in NEET-I to take another chance in NEET-II but this would be subject to their foregoing the result of the NEET-I.

“We direct that all such eligible candidates who could not appear in NEET-I and those who had appeared but have apprehension that they had not prepared well, be permitted to appear in NEET-II, subject to seeking an option from the said candidates to give up their candidature for NEET-I,” the bench said in its order.

Modifying its April 28 order, the bench permitted the CBSE to reschedule July 24 NEET-II saying: “It would be open to the respondents (CBSE and MCI) to reschedule the date of holding NEET-II, if necessary.”

Declining the plea by some states to allow them to hold common entrance tests under their respective laws and that of the private medical colleges, the bench said: “We may also add here that to ensure total credibility of the examination to be held by the CBSE, the oversight committee appointed by this court vide the aforesaid judgment dated May 2 shall also oversee the NEET-II examination to be conducted by the CBSE.”

The apex court by its May 2 judgment had appointed a three member committee comprising former chief justice of India R.M. Lodha, former comptroller and auditor general Vinod Rai and Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences director Shiv Sarin, to oversee the functioning of the Medical Council of India including its statutory functions and vetting of all its policy decisions as it took a dim view of its working.

The MCI of India and the Dental Council of India had in December, 2010, amended the then statutory regulations to provide for a single National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to the MBBS/BDS course.

However, the notification was struck down on July 18, 2013 by a majority judgment, in which the apex court, in a split verdict of 2:1, had held that NEET was flawed both procedurally and substantially.

While then then Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Vikramajit Sen (since both retired) had junked the NEET, Justice Dave disagreed with the majority view.

However, the NEET was restored on April 11, 2016 when the five judge constitution bench of Justice Dave, Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice R.K. Agrawal, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice R. Banumathi recalled July 18, 2013 order.