V. Jayanth

Else it would have been contempt of court

CHENNAI: The State Government had no option but to announce a common entrance test (CET), as the Supreme Court refused to stay the Madras High Court order, lawyers and academics say.

If it had not taken the step it would have amounted to contempt of court, senior lawyers explain. They say the Government is still keeping the option of reviewing the CET arrangement, subject to the outcome of its special leave petition in the apex court. After the ruling, expected on April 13, there can be a fresh appraisal of the CET and whether it must extend to Plus-Two students of all streams.

Whatever the final outcome, the Government's decision has brought relief to students and parents. All they wanted to know was whether State Board students should also take a CET and if so, when. The questions have been answered.

A few hundred students may be affected as the All-India Pre Medical and Dental final examinations are being held on May 14. Those seeking admission to medical and dental colleges in the State have to take the State CET on May 13 and 14.

Academics and students have no complaint about the dates, though they are a bit too close to the day of counting of votes in the Assembly elections, May 11.

"No advantage"

"Any further delay in holding the CET will push back the entire process of declaring results, holding counselling and completing admissions," says analyst Jayaprakash Gandhi. He insists that admissions based on Plus-Two marks alone will offer no special advantage to rural students who do not figure prominently in the top rankings. Exceptions are students from special residential schools in the Salem-Namakkal belt.

But there are other issues that need to be addressed soon.

Anna University sources say there may be more students taking the State CET this year, because of the "uncertainty that hangs over some of the deemed universities." As such, the Government has to announce the total number of seats that will be on offer under its single-window system (SWS).

SWS admissions

This entails a dialogue with private self-financing colleges, which are now under no obligation to surrender seats to the "government quota" for the SWS admissions. But quite a few of these colleges, except the top ranking ones and those in and around Chennai, say they are willing to offer anywhere from 30 to 70 per cent of their seats to the central pool. Some managements say they get "better quality students" more through the SWS than the management quota. This seems particularly true in the southern and western regions.

Without these seats, the CET may become meaningless. Over 1.5 lakh students will vie for just over 5,000 seats in the government and Anna University colleges, while 70,000 seats in the private self-financing colleges may remain outside the system. It will be useful for the students and the parents to know, before long, how many seats will be available this year under the SWS. Parents suggest that colleges which do not offer seats to the government quota be made to follow the rigours of the admission process prescribed by the Supreme Court.