NEW DELHI :
The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that there is no fundamental right violation in prescribing National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions of graduate and post-graduate programs in medical and dental courses across aided and unaided minority professional institutes.
Notifications for an all India uniform NEET examination was issued by the Medical Council of India and the Dental Council of India in December 2010. These notifications were originally challenged in the court in 2012 questioning it constitutional validity. In 2016, these notifications were incorporated as statutory provisions under the Medical Council of India Act and the Dentists Act.
A bunch of petitioners headed by Christian medical College (CMC), Vellora had their primary argument that the private unaided institutes had their own admission tests and criteria for student’s admission and NEET should not be imposed on them. For CMC, the criteria were the interest of the student to work in rural areas.
The judgment passed by a three judge bench of the Apex court headed by Justice Arun Mishra held that by prescribing NEET a uniform entrance examination the court “intends to weed out evils from the system and various malpractices which decayed the system."
The bench added that the minority institutions are equally bound to comply with the conditions imposed under the relevant Acts and Regulations to enjoy affiliation and recognition, which apply to all institutions.
The petitioners had argued that the NEET notification violated the fundamental rights of an unaided minority institution to “establish and administer educational institutions of their choice" protected under the provisions of the Constitution of India, which includes the right to admit students of their own choice.
The bench also comprising Justices Vineet Saran and MR Shah observed in the judgment that the rights granted under the constitution, “do not come in the way of securing transparency and recognition of merits in the matter of admissions. It is open to regulating the course of study, qualifications for ensuring educational standards. It is open to imposing reasonable restrictions in the national and public interest."
In 108 pages long judgement, the court noted the argument of petitioners that State has no power to compel an unaided minority institution to admit students through a single centralized national examination such as NEET. The unaided minority professional colleges have the fundamental rights to choose the method and manner in which to admit its students, subject to satisfying the triple test of having a fair, transparent, and non exploitative process.
Negating this argument, the court held that Uniform Entrance Test qualifies the test of proportionality and is reasonable. The same is intended to check several maladies which crept into medical education, to prevent capitation fee by admitting students which are lower in merit and to prevent exploitation, profiteering, and commercialization of education.