New Delhi: In a significant order, the Supreme Court today rejected pleas of state governments and minority institutions to allow them to hold separate entrance exams for MBBS and BDS courses for the academic year 2016-17 saying only NEET provides for conducting such test for admission to these courses.
The apex court put to rest all confusion by refusing to modify its April 28 order by which it had allowed Centre and CBSE to conduct a single common entrance test for admission to MBBS and BDS courses through National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET).
The top court had approved the schedule put before it by the Centre, CBSE and Medical Medical Council of India (MCI) for treating All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) fixed for May 1 as NEET-1. Those who have not applied for AIPMT will be given opportunity to appear in NEET-II on July 24 and the combined result would be declared on August 17 so that the admission process can be completed by September 30.
Around 6.5 lakh students took up the NEET-I test held on May 1. The apex court rejected the contentions of the state governments, private medical colleges and also the minority institutions like Christian Medical College Vellore and Ludhiana that they have the legislative competence to hold separate entrance tests.
"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. 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. We thus, do not find any merit in the applications seeking modification of order dated April 28, 2016," a bench comprising justices A R Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and Adarsh Kumar Goel, said.
Appearing for NEET-II
The apex court also made it clear that "the students who have either applied for NEET-I but could not appear or who appeared but could not prepare fully thinking that the preparation was to be only for 15 per cent all India seats and there will be further opportunity to appear in other examinations.
"To allay any such apprehension, 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.
It also said that it "would be open to the respondents (Centre, CBSE) to reschedule the date of holding NEET-II, if necessary. To this extent the earlier orders stand modified.
"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, 2016 shall also oversee the NEET-II examination to be conducted by the CBSE. In view of the above, it is also clarified that only NEET would enable students to get admission to MBBS or BDS studies," it said.
The apex court in its order today also noted that the stand of the private medical colleges (including minorities) that conducting of entrance test by the state violated right of autonomy of the said colleges, has been rejected. "The State law providing for conducting of entrance test was upheld, rejecting the contention that the State had no legislative competence on the subject. At the same time, it was held that the admission involved two aspects.
"First, the adoption of setting up of minimum standards of education and coordination of such standards which aspect was covered exclusively by Entry 66 of List I. The second aspect is with regard to implementation of said standards which was covered by Entry 25 of List III," the bench said.
"On the said aspect, the State could also legislate. The two entries overlap to some extent and to that extent Entry 66 of List I prevailed over the subject covered by Entry 25," the court said while disposing of all the petitions.