TAMIL NADU

CET: focus now shifts to seven-judge Bench decision

NewsAnalysis The endeavour of the Bench is to clear the confusion to put in place a proper mechanism for admission The Bench's endeavour is to clear confusion to put in place mechanism for admission

J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court refusing to stay the Madras High Court judgment quashing a Tamil Nadu Government Order scrapping the Common Entrance Test for admission to medicine, engineering and other professional courses for 2005-06, the focus has now shifted to the seven-judge Bench decision of the apex court.

On Monday, a vacation Bench of Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari and Justice S.H. Kapadia asked the senior counsel for the Tamil Nadu Government to give a quietus to the policy decision to scrap the CET for the current academic year and asked the State to implement its policy decision next year subject to the decision of the seven-judges.

While adjourning a batch of petitions pertaining to admissions in Karnataka, the vacation Bench indicated that the decision of the seven-judges is expected next week, immediately after the court reopens on July 11 after summer vacation.

On a plea from counsel for early hearing, the Bench said since the interests of thousands of students were involved, the parties could wait till the judgment was delivered.

While reserving orders on March 16, the Bench observed that it would deliver the judgment before the commencement of the current academic year.

But since there was delay in pronouncing the verdict, Karnataka and Kerala obtained permission to continue the status quo for this year.

The Bench will go into questions related to the interpretation of the five-Judge Bench decision in the Islamic Academy case, which clarified the judgment of an 11-Judge Bench in the T.M.A. Pai case.

Among many aspects, the court is to decide the issue of allowing the All-India Medical and Engineering Colleges Association to hold a national-level common entrance test for admissions to be made in the management quota for all professional courses.

It was strenuously argued that at present at least four entrance tests were being conducted in each State, including those conducted or monitored by the State-level committees, headed by a retired High Court judge.

As a result more than 100 entrance tests were being held if the nation as a whole was taken into consideration. It was pleaded to allow holding an all-India Common Entrance Test for filling seats under the management quota so that students from one corner of the country could join any college of his choice anywhere.

Besides reducing the expenses students incur on writing entrance tests, it would also bring immense benefit to the colleges, which had to face the agony of thousands of unfilled seats last year.

The Centre fully supported this stand and said fixation of quotas should not be left to the determination of each institution.

There was no opposition from the Centre for an all-India CET for the management quota on the pattern of the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination for government quota and all-India medical entrance test.

Fixation of quotas

Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka justified fixation of quotas for admission to medical, engineering and other professional colleges to ensure that poor students are not deprived of their chances.

Other issues such as fee fixation, rights of minorities, the necessity of State-level committees to monitor holding of the CET for management quota would also be gone into by the court.

Last year due to different interpretations of these two judgments several States either enacted laws fixing the quotas or framed regulations governing admissions and this led to a spate of petitions being filed in various High Courts.

As a result chaos prevailed during admissions to medical, engineering and other professional courses.

The endeavour of the seven-judge Bench is to clear the confusion to put in place a proper mechanism for admission.

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