MCI filed transfer pleas to avoid multiplicity of proceedings

The Supreme Court on Friday transferred to itself 23 cases from various High Courts across the country relating to petitions challenging the National Eligibility & Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to post-graduate medical courses from 2013-14.

As per the regulations announced by the Medical Council of India, seats will be allotted from the National list and State-wise merit list prepared by the MCI. Further, 50 per cent of all PG courses will be filled by candidates selected by the State Government.

Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, several associations of private medical colleges, D.D. Medical College & Hospital, Tamil Nadu, and various individual colleges had filed petitions in the respective High Courts and obtained an interim stay against the applicability of NEET to them.

Aggrieved by these orders, the MCI filed petitions seeking transfer of these cases to the Supreme Court to avoid multiplicity of proceedings.

Proceedings stayed

The Supreme Court, while staying all further proceedings, had issued notices to the respondent colleges/States/associations seeking their response.

During the resumed hearing on Friday, a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices S.S. Nijjar and J. Chelameswar directed that all matters pending in various High Courts be transferred to the Supreme Court.

The Bench had, on October 10, passed the order in the case of Christian Medical College, Vellore, and on Friday passed similar orders for other petitions.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on October 29 to enable the parties to file their responses, particularly on the issue of vacating the stay orders passed by the High Courts.

The Bench directed the High Courts concerned to transfer the records of these cases to the Supreme Court within one week.

Clarification

The Bench, however, made it clear that the pendency of these matters “shall not prevent the respondent-institutions from receiving applications for the entrance examination [conducted by them] for the year 2013-14 as per their schedule, but that will not entitle the respondent institutions to claim any equity on the basis thereof”.

In its transfer petitions, the MCI said the challenge to NEET was misconceived as the Supreme Court in the TMA Pai Foundation judgment had clearly held that there should be a common entrance test for admission to professional courses.

It said the substantial question of law involved was regarding the extent of regulation of admissions in private professional unaided minority/non-minority institutions by statutory bodies like the MCI.

The MCI also said that considering the hardships faced by students in filling multiple forms in different States of different examination bodies, as well as private associations and individual colleges, the Supreme Court had suggested a single test.

It sought stay of the orders passed by various High Courts and all further proceedings.

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