If the order is not stayed, it will seriously prejudice the process of holding a common entrance test, says Council

The Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Centre have moved the Supreme Court seeking review of the judgment declaring as unconstitutional the single National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) introduced by the MCI and Dental Council of India for admission to graduate and post graduate medical and dental courses.

A Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir (since retd.) and Justices Anil R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen had by a majority of 2:1 quashed the NEET on July 18. Mr. Justice Dave, in a separate judgment, held that the test was valid.

In its petition, the MCI said “If the July 18 judgment is not stayed, it will seriously prejudice the progress of the process of holding common entrance test which has been evolved over the period of more than five years of deliberations, judicial orders. The majority judgment is based on series of error apparent on the face of record, and is in ignorance of statutory provisions.”

In its petition, the Centre said that ensuring uniform standards for medical education was of paramount interest to the patient and the single-window system to draw the merit list was a step in that regard. Holding of common entrance test came about as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s orders in the Simran Jain case, during the hearing of which a decision was taken that the MCI would hold a single entrance test since merit in medical education was essential to ensure quality healthcare to citizens.

It said the guidelines annexed to NEET ensured that the single-window admission system would be in breach of neither the rights of States nor would it interfere with rights of religious and linguistic minorities.

Sankalp, a non-governmental organisation, also sought review of the NEET judgment. It said the issue regarding holding a common entrance test for graduate and postgraduate professional courses was in teeth of the law laid down by a seven bench judgment of this Court in the P. Inamdar case.

It said the court had not appreciated that this court in the ‘Preeti Srivastava case’ had also held that a State had the right to control education, including medical education, so long as the field was unoccupied by any Union legislation.

Sankalp said: “As has been rightly held by the minority judgment that under NEET though the students can be selected only on the basis of their merit, it would be open to the States to follow their reservation policy and it would also be open to the institutions based on religious or linguistic minority to select students of their choice, provided the students so selected have secured minimum marks prescribed at NEET.” The petitioners sought oral hearing of the matter.

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