SC order on NEET today

Students, colleges, States on the edge

April 28, 2016 03:14 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 03:52 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The apex court, which on April 11 recalled its 2013 judgment quashing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, is considering a plea to have the test this year itself. File photo

The apex court, which on April 11 recalled its 2013 judgment quashing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, is considering a plea to have the test this year itself. File photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to pass orders on a plea to hold National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) 2016-17.

> On April 11, the apex court recalled its 2013 judgment quashing NEET .

A bench of Justices Anil R. Dave, S.K. Singh and A.K. Goel on Thursday reserved the plea for holding NEET 2016-17 for final orders at lunch break even as the courtroom burst into an uproar as States and colleges protested that it was too late in the day to hold NEET. The order is expected to be delivered at 3.30 p.m.

The hearing at noon began with the Union and Medical Council of India assuring the court that it is possible to hold NEET this academic year and passed on to the Bench the schedule.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand submitted that the All India PMT would be re-named as NEET-I and conducted on May 1. A second batch of exams would be conducted on July 24. The combined results would be declared by August 17. Counselling rounds would be held for 45 days between August 17 and September 30. The entire process would be completed by September 30. An approximate number of 6.5 lakh students would attend the exams across the country.

>All you need to know about the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test

However, senior advocate L. Nageshwar Rao strongly objected to this turn of events.

"Your Lordships should know that there are no entrance exams in Tamil Nadu. Students there never had an opportunity to participate in an entrance exam right from 2007. They are evaluated on the basis of marks they got in Class 12 Board exams..." Mr. Rao submitted.

"Please understand I am representing a State where lakhs of students will suffer if made to compete the NEET now. They have no idea or concept of an entrance exam... and now you will make them compete at a national level all of a sudden... You are supposed to protect the rights of these children," he argued.

He said that it was the State policy - translated into a statute in 2007 and practised all these years - to not have entrance exams in Tamil Nadu in a bid to achieve aspirational parity between rural and urban students in Tamil Nadu.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for private medical colleges, asked the Bench why they were in a hurry to bring NEET back this year when the April 11 order had only "recalled" the 2013 verdict but not struck it down. He questioned how a three-judge Bench can now bring NEET back to life when a five-judge Bench is alrady scheduled to consider afresh the very constitutionality of the common entrance exam.

"You have not restored NEET by your April 11 order to recall the 2013 judgment. The effect of recalling a judgment is not striking it down. This is being done at a time when medical exams in several colleges are already concluded or in the offing in other places. This is just not done," Mr. Dhawan submitted.

Senior advocate K.K. Vengopal, appearing for Karnataka medical colleges, submitted that the apex court was violating the natural principles of justice by reserving for final orders without even giving the colleges and objecting States a reasonable opportunity to be heard.

He said that call centres have been set up and colleges had received over 1.5 lakh applications from all over the country and this was too late to introduce the NEET system now.

"Why is the Supreme Court of India not rendering natural justice. Hear us in detail first before passing orders. This is the highest court of the country," Mr. Venugopal said.

State of Uttar Pradesh also intervened, saying exams dates had been fixed and any last minute change would only burden students.

"We have to hear and decide this fast as they [MCI and Union] are running out of time," Justice Dave explained.

"They are running out of time? It is we who are running out of time," UP counsel reacted.

Justice Singh finally interjected to reassure that the court's order would not deprive the colleges and States of their rights.

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