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Supreme Court withdraws 2013 order on medical entrance test

Altamas Kabir, then Chief Justice of Supreme Court, had in 2013 scrapped the single common entrance test (NEET) for admission to MBBS, BDS and PG courses in all medical colleges saying "children in metropolitan areas enjoy greater privileges than their counterparts in most of the rural areas as far as education is concerned."

Altamas Kabir, then Chief Justice of Supreme Court, had in 2013 scrapped the single common entrance test (NEET) for admission to MBBS, BDS and PG courses in all medical colleges saying "children in metropolitan areas enjoy greater privileges than their counterparts in most of the rural areas as far as education is concerned."

The Supreme Court on Monday admitted to have acted too hastily and recalled its 2013 judgment declaring the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions to medical, BDS and post-graduate medical courses unconstitutional.

Three years after it disqualified the NEET as an interference in the right of the State and private medical colleges to administer, the court agreed without elaborating that its decision required re-consideration.

The issue will now be heard afresh.

The NEET was meant to end rampant corruption in medical admissions, especially payment of huge capitation fees or donations in private colleges.

“After giving our thoughtful and due consideration, we are of the view that the judgment delivered in the Christian Medical College case needs reconsideration.

“We do not propose to state reasons in detail at this stage so it may not prejudicially affect the hearing,” a five-judge Bench, led by Justice Anil R. Dave, said in a four-page order.

Justice Dave was on the tri-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir who delivered the July 18, 2013 majority verdict (2-1) against the NEET policy. He had written the dissenting judgment, in which he described how the verdict was a rush job as Chief Justice Kabir was about to retire.

In Monday’s order agreeing to review its judgment, Justice Dave's Constitution Bench unanimously reiterated that the judge was right in 2013. “The majority view [in the 2013 judgment] has not taken into consideration some binding precedents and more particularly, we find that there was no discussion among the members of the Bench before pronouncement of the judgment,” the Constitution Bench observed.

In his dissenting view, Justice Dave had upheld the NEET saying the policy was “legal” as it would stop corrupt practices which enabled undeserving students to get admissions by paying huge capitation fees or donations.

Justice wrote in 2013 that “one of the main considerations of having one common entrance test conducted by the Medical Council of India is to check the malaise of money-making business in the admission process by selling their seats for crores, which has been going on for the last so many years in private colleges.”

But the majority judgment by Chief Justice Kabir and Justice (now retired) Vikramjit Sen had differed, holding that NEET would deprive the States, State-run universities and medical colleges, including those enjoying the constitutional protection, of their right to admit students to MBBS, BDS and postgraduate courses as per their own procedures, beliefs and dispensations. “In our view, the role attributed to, and the powers conferred on, the MCI and the DCI under … the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, and the Dentists Act, 1948, do not contemplate anything different, and are restricted to laying down standards which are uniformly applicable to all medical colleges and institutions … to ensure the excellence of medical education …” the majority judgment had held.

The Christian Medical College, Vellore; the States of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; several associations of private medical colleges; DD Medical College and DD Hospital, Tamil Nadu; and various individual colleges had filed petitions in High Courts and obtained an interim stay on the applicability of the NEET to them. On the MCI’s petitions, these cases had been transferred to the Supreme Court.


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Printable version | Jun 3, 2022 4:59:51 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/SC-recalls-its-controversial-2013-verdict-on-medical-entrance/article60558826.ece