Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While passing the interim order, the Division Bench held that there is no bar in law to Overseas Citizens of India cardholders, who are NEET UG 2017 qualified, to apply for management quota seats in the deemed Universities.

Petitioners claimed that they were eligible to be considered for admission under the management quota seats in the deemed Universities. The petitioners relied on the order of Karnataka HC passed in W.P. No. 23448/2017 dated 07.07.2017 and also the interim direction issued by the Supreme Court in W.P. No. 267/2017, dated 09.05.2017, regarding common counseling for admission to deemed Universities.

Learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that the Director General of Health Services was not permitting the petitioners to apply for management quota seats available in deemed Universities. Medical Council of India submitted that there is no bar in law for Overseas Citizens of India cardholders who are NEET UG 2017 qualified, to apply for available management quota seats.

The Court, after perusing the documents and submissions on behalf of the parties, held that the petitioners and similarly situated Overseas Citizens of India cardholders, who are NEET UG 2017 qualified, are eligible to apply for admission to I year MBBS/BDS course under the management quota seats in deemed Universities. [Aparna Macharla v. Union of India, W.P. Nos. 32330-32332/2017, dated August 01, 2017]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Staying the order of the MAdras High Court that stayed the declaration of results of NEET examination for admission in MBBS and BDS courses, the Court asked the CBSE to declare the result by June 26, 2017. The Court directed the authorities concerned to proceed with the process of declaration of results, subsequent counselling and admission as per the schedule fixed by it earlier.

The bench of P.C. Pant and Deepak Gupta, JJ also asked all the High Courts to refrain from entertaining any petition in matters relating to NEET examination 2017 that was conducted on 07.05.2017, as it affects the schedule of the examination.

The cancellation of the exam  and conduct of re-exam was sought due to alleged question paper leak. Madras High Court had, hence, on 24.05.2017, granted stay on the declaration of the result. The CBSE approached the Supreme Court for urgent hearing of the matter praying that it should be allowed to declare the result as the entire schedule of counselling and subsequent admission for medical courses through NEET has gone haywire.

Source: PTI

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court refused urgent hearing of the plea seeking cancellation of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) which was conducted on 07.05.2017. The Court said that since the matter was already being heard by the Madras High Court that has also ordered a stay on the publication of the result till 07.06.2017, there was no need to hear the matter urgently. The Court, however, asked the petitioner, an NGO named Sankalp, to mention the plea next week. The petitioner had sought for cancellation of the exam held on 07.05.2017 and conduct of re-exam due to alleged question paper leak.

Source: ANI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition seeking quashing of admission notice issued by CBSE dated 31.1.2017 that stipulates the maximum age of 25 years as eligible candidates to undergo the NEET examination, the bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ said that, prima facie, such an age limit could not have been determined by way of a notice on the basis of the instructions issued by the Medical Council of India and that it is appropriate to direct that all the desirous candidates will be allowed to fill up the forms on the online portal of the CBSE on or before 5.4.2017.

It was contended by the petitioners that in the absence of Regulations framed by the Medical Council of India with regard to the age limit, by issuance of a notice, the age limit could not have been determined and that there are students who, after graduation, are also desirous of taking NEET examination to become doctors.

Directing that the online portal shall be opened from today evening, the Court said that if the competent authority of the CBSE seeks any logistic support from the agencies for having additional centres in the District, the Collector of the concerned District or the Commissioner of the City whoever is the authority will extend all the support so that the forms are accepted and the examinations are held on the date fixed by making different centres available.

The Court further clarified that if any High Court has passed any order contrary to the present order, the CBSE shall be bound by the order passed by this Court as far as the cut-off date is concerned. However, no High Court in the country shall interfere with regard to any litigation pertaining to choosing/allocation of centres.

The matter will be taken up in the second week of July, 2017 for final hearing. [Rai Sabyasachi v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 303, order dated 31.03.2017]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Setting aside the admission of the petitioner to the Christian Medical College in the State of Chhattisgarh, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and P.C. Pant, JJ said that the Court cannot go against the orders passed by this Court from time to time only for the benefit of the students.

The petitioner and some other students had obtained admission to the medical college after clearing the CGMAT-2016. However, on 21.12.2010 a gazette notification was issued by the Medical Council of India amending the “Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997” to the effect, inter alia, that admissions to the MBBS course shall be based solely on marks obtained in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test.

The petitioner had contended that he had already been granted admission by the College after the examination CGMAT-2016 was conducted by the College and supervised and monitored by the State of Chhattisgarh and in which there were no allegations of impropriety, his admission should not be disturbed. Rejecting the said contention, the Court said that the question is not of any impropriety in the conduct of the examination but the question is really one of adhering to a particular discipline laid down by the Medical Council of India and approved by this Court. The Court said the plight of the petitioner is unfortunate but it cannot be helped.

Considering the fact that some similarly placed students participated in NEET and qualified in the examination, the Court said that those students who did not participate in NEET and placed their trust only in the College and the State of Chhattisgarh took a gamble and that gamble have unfortunately not succeeded. [Rishabh Choudhary v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 53, decided on 23.01.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme CourtUniversities and Educational Institutions

Supreme Court: In a Writ Petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India praying for a declaration that the third Proviso to Regulation 9(2) of the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, is unconstitutional and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, the 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, CJI and A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ held that the procedure evolved in Regulation 9 in general and the proviso to Clause (IV) in particular is just, proper and reasonable and also fulfill the test of Article 14 of the Constitution, being in larger public interest.

The writ petitioners, who claimed to be members of the Provincial Medical Health Services in the State of Uttar Pradesh, had contended that they should also be considered for admission in Post Graduate Degree Courses against 30% quota for in-service candidates. However, the 30% quota was reserved only for the in-service candidates who had worked in remote and difficult areas; and not for the in-service Medical Officers generally. It was the case of the petitioners that there is neither any committee set up nor guidelines made as to which area can be notified as remote and difficult area and that the power vested in the State is an un-canalized power and disregards the settled position that for consideration after the graduate level, merit should be the sole criteria.

Considering the fact that not even one instance has been brought forward to show that some areas which are not remote or difficult areas has been so notified, the Court rejected the said contention and held that the mere hypothesis that the State Government may take an improper decision whilst notifying the area as remote and difficult, cannot be the basis to hold that Regulation 9 and in particular proviso to Clause IV is unreasonable.

It was noticed that the State Governments across the country are not in a position to provide health care facilities in remote and difficult areas in the State for want of Doctors. The provision in the form of granting weightage of marks, therefore, was to give incentive to the in-service candidates and to attract more graduates to join as Medical Officers in the State Health Care Sector as in order to determine the academic merit of candidates, merely securing high marks in the NEET is not enough. The academic merit of the candidate must also reckon the services rendered for the common or public good. It was further stated that having served in rural and difficult areas of the State for one year or above, the incumbent having sacrificed his career by rendering services for providing health care facilities in rural areas, deserve incentive marks to be reckoned for determining merit. [State of U.P. v. Dr. Dinesh Singh Chauhan, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 820, decided on 16.08.2016]

OP. ED.Universities and Educational Institutions

Recently, the Supreme Court rendered an important verdict with massive implications for the writ petition filed by the Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India against the decision passed in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[1] which disallowed States to conduct their own entrance exams and providing relief to plethora of underprivileged students ordered NEET as the criterion for admissions.

The Government introduced “one country, one test” format for all the aspiring medical students of the country which will be known as National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET). NEET was initially scheduled to take place in 2012 but due to oppositions from various States it was put to hold.

Issue before the court

Whether the decision of the Supreme Court to scrap NEET in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[2] correct or is against Section 33 read with Section 19?A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Section 20 of the Dentists Act, 1948 which empowers Medical and Dental Council of India to regulate standards of education by issuing notifications. The real to be determined is “how far is NEET neat”.

Judgment

In the recent judgment passed by the Supreme Court on 28-4-2016, the court speaking through A.R. Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and Adarsh K. Goel, JJ. held that NEET should be held and notwithstanding any order passed by any court earlier with regard to not holding NEET, this order shall operate. It was further held that the judgment passed in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[3], “that it would not be proper to hold NEET” is no more valid and should not affect pending matters.

Analysis

The overall seats in MBBS are 49,990 out of which 25,330 belong to government medical colleges and 24,660 to private medical colleges[4]. Earlier State Government selected students through All India Pre-Medical Test (Aipmt) or CET which is now replaced by NEET with no major controversy. Problem arises for 24,660 seats which are reserved for private medical colleges. NEET does not alter the number of seats offered by private medical colleges and minority institutions. Instead it provides a ranking which the private medical colleges will have to adhere while selecting students.

In 2014, various writ petitions were filed against the two notifications of Medical Council of India, one amending Medical Council of India Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997 and other amending MCI Postgraduate Educational Regulations, 2000 and two notifications of Dental Council of India which introduced an all India common entrance examination for medical, dental and postgraduate courses to be conducted across the country challenging the constitutional and the statutory validity.[5]

First, the contention of Christian Medical College, Vellore in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[6] was that NEET violates fundamental right as unaided minority has its own procedure and method of admission for selection of students, and its purpose is nationalisation which will in turn deprive the underprivileged. Christian Medical College, Vellore alleged that MCI and DCI have power to only make recommendations and not conduct the examination themselves. Christian Medical College, Vellore cited the case TMA Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka[7] where it was clearly held that except for providing minimum qualification and eligibility, the admission cannot be regulated by State.

On the contrary, it was submitted by the respondent that the purpose of NEET was to introduce uniformity of standards and lessen the hardship of students to write multiple entrance examinations. It was also submitted that regulations of Section 33 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 were framed to apply to both majority and minority institutions. Right of minority is not denied as the institutes can chose successful minority who have secured minimum marks from the list of NEET.

This could be called the winning contention on part of the respondent as a very strong claim of petitioner falls to ground. The private medical colleges retain the option of offering seats to students of their community on the basis of merit list provided by NEET. Therefore, as long as admission process qualifies the “triple test” laid in P.A. Inamdar[8] i.e. fair, transparent and non?exploitative, it would be unjust to interfere in admission process of an institution. However, in the recent times, education has been made a profiteering business rather than a medium of imparting knowledge. Today, medical institutions are indulging in gross malpractices of charging huge amount of capitation fee, donations, etc. in garb of autonomy. In Modern Dental College and Research Centre v. State of M.P.[9] the stand of private medical colleges that conducting of entrance test by State violated the autonomy of colleges had been rejected.

In Kerala Education Bill, 1957, In re[10], it was observed that admission to educational institutions is an indispensible part of right of an educational institution which cannot be regulated except to lay down standards for maintaining excellence of education. In the case of aided institutions, the State may direct certain number of students to be admitted other than the method adopted by the institution. However, in unaided minority, right to admit students cannot be interfered with. The Court in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[11] differed with the decision passed in Kerala Education Bill case[12] and held that for unaided minority, a certain number of students from other communities should also be admitted to maintain a secular character and described it as “sprinkling effect”.

Second, it was contended by Christian Medical College, Vellore that students from different State Boards take this examination and they are alien to the pattern followed by CBSE, so NEET would be violation of Article 14.

Yet again, there is not enough weight in this contention as NEET will be conducted to test the knowledge of physics, biology and chemistry and irrespective of the syllabus, the human heart can be taught only in one manner.

Third, Christian Medical College, Vellore contended that as Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Dentists Act, 1948 framed under Schedule VII List I Entry 66, its notifications were delegated legislation so they don’t have power to override legislations of various States under Schedule VII List III Entries 25 and 26.

The respondent submitted that the “standard” in Schedule VII List I Entry 66 was to be given wider interpretation and the rights granted in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution are limited to religion and available to individuals and not bodies like Christian Medical College, Vellore.

In Preeti Srivastava v. State of M.P.[13] the court held that the standard of education in an institution depends upon the caliber of students who are to be admitted. It was also held that NEET can be conducted under the supervision of MCI as per Section 33 of the Act. Thus, according to Schedule VII List III Entry 25, both the Union and States have power to legislate on matter of medical education subject to provisions of Schedule VII List I Entry 66 which are related to the determination of standards in higher education. It was further added that by virtue of Schedule VII List I Entry 66 the Union can make laws relating to determination of standards in institution for higher education.

The court speaking through Altamas Kabir, C.J., in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[14] held:

Although Article 19(6) permits reasonable restriction on Article 19(1)(g), act of Medical Council of India would not qualify as reasonable restriction but is interference and therefore, the four acts are ultra vires Articles 19(1)(g), 25, 26(a), 29(1) and 30(1).

However, a three-Judge Bench considering similar petitions in Veterinary Council of India v. Indian Council of Agricultural Research[15] held Common All India Entrance Examination as valid. It was also held that Article 19(6) permits reasonable restriction on Article 19(1)(g)  and therefore Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Dentists Act, 1948 cannot be said to be violative of Article 19(1)(g). Constitution-framers were conscious of the fact that not anybody can be given right to practise any profession without competency and capacity.

In the aftermath of decision passed by Supreme Court in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[16], a petition was filed by Medical Council of India wherein the 5-Judge Bench agreed to hear petition[17] and held that “decision of Christian Medical College[18] needs reconsideration”.

Later, in Sankalp Charitable Trust v. Union of India[19] NEET was held to be valid and operative. There should be a standard to recruit doctors who are well versed in medicine and to achieve this objective Medical Council of India has come up with NEET which will regulate the admission process in three stages:

         (i)   Only students who have right aptitude will be admitted to medical colleges across the country.

        (ii)   Hospitals should be sufficiently equipped with adequate number of patients so that doctors can carry on their practical training properly.

       (iii)   The examination which the students will take should be strictly regulated so as to get admission.

If the institution wants an excellent output then it should look towards recruiting capable and competent students who will later become skilled professional doctors. This is the reason as to why NEET is crucial.

The Court had further ordered to conduct All India Pre-Medical Test (Aipmt) as the first phase of NEET on May 1 and NEET II i.e. the second phase on July 24. Sorting the much debated issue over conducting NEET in two phases, the Supreme Court on 28-4-2016 held that all eligible candidates who could not appear for NEET I or those who have apprehension that they were not well prepared can sit for NEET II provided they give a written undertaking that they agree to give up their candidature in NEET I.

NEET was welcomed by many States as a move to bring transparency and reduce malpractices in several medical and dental colleges of the country. However, it was pointed out by Health Ministers of different States in a meeting headed by the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, J.P. Nadda, that, NEET should be conducted from next year so that students get time to prepare accordingly as there are also issues relating to syllabus which is followed by different State Boards. It was also pointed out that NEET should be allowed in regional languages in addition to English and Hindi.

Differing from the opinion of various Health Ministers, the time given by the Supreme Court to students for preparation cannot be said to be too short as the students who aspire to clear CET or Aipmt already keep preparing for one to two years and NEET is not based upon a different syllabus. It is only for the benefit of underprivileged students so that they get an equal and fair opportunity at medical education. Also, in 2013, a vernacular NEET was conducted and not even a single vernacular language candidate could get admission.[20] According to Medical Council of India Regulations, only those students who have passed 12th standard English paper are eligible to join medical colleges.[21] Therefore, the argument that NEET should be conducted in regional languages other than English and Hindi is absurd and baseless.

The President has promulgated two ordinances to amend the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and the Dentists Act, 1948 and thereby institutionalised NEET and made it applicable for the academic year 2016?2017. The amended ordinances shall not however affect admissions to State Government seats for the academic year 2016-2017.

The Ordinance will allow the State Government to hold their respective entrance tests for 2016-2017. It is also made clear that the private medical colleges and deemed universities have to shortlist students through NEET and they cannot conduct their separate entrance examination.

*Fourth year student, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, National Law University, Lucknow.

[1]   (2013) 14 SCC 539.

[2]   (2013) 14 SCC 539.

[3]   (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[4]<http://www.mciindia.org/for-colleges/Minimum%20Standard%20Requirements%20for% 20100%20Admissions.pdf> accessed 22-5-2016.

[5]   (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[6]   (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[7]   (2002) 8 SCC 481.

[8]   (2005) 6 SCC 537.

[9]   (2009) 7 SCC 751.

[10]  AIR 1958 SC 956.

[11]  (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[12]  AIR 1958 SC 956.

[13]  (1999) 7 SCC 120.

[14]  (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[15]  (2000) 1 SCC 750.

[16]  (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[17]  Medical Council of India v. Christian Medical College, (2016) 4 SCC 342.

[18]  (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[19]  2016 SCC OnLine SC 366.

[20]  Devi Shetty, The NEET Solution: By endorsing NEET, Supreme Court comes to the aid of aspiring medical students (The Times of India, 19-5-2016) <https://blogs.timesofinida.indiatimes.com/toi-edit-page/the-neet-solution-by-endorsing-neet-supreme-court-comes-to-the-aid-of-aspiring-medical-students/> accessed 20-5-2016.

[21]http://www.mciindia.org/for-colleges/Minimum%20Standard%20Requirements%20for% 20100%20Admissions.pdf> accessed 22-5-2016.

Hot Off The PressNews

The Central Government on Friday approved an ordinance to defer implementation of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for State Governments and their affiliated institutions by a year, so that students are provided with enough time to prepare. This will bypass the Supreme Court’s decision to hold the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), a common test for admission to medical and dental courses. The Ordinance is now sent for approval of President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, for it to come into effect.

The Ordinance will permit the State Government to conduct their own entrance test this year. It was also made clear that private medical colleges and deemed universities cannot conduct their own entrance exams and have to select students through NEET.

The Supreme Court on April 28, allowed NEET to be held in two phases. The first phase of NEET,  All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT), was held on May 1. Students were given an opportunity to appear for NEET-2 on July 24 in case they had not applied for NEET-1. It was further ruled that NEET will be conducted in by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in two languages.

To Read Supreme Court’s ruling, click here

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of A.R. Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and A.K. Goel, JJ cleared the air over the much debated topic as to the hardship to the students who have either applied for NEET-I but could not appear or who appeared but could not prepare fully thinking that the preparation was to be only for 15% All India seats and there will be further opportunity to appear in other examinations. The Court said that all such eligible candidates who could not appear in NEET-I and those who had appeared but have apprehension that they had not prepared well, can be permitted to appear in NEET-II, subject to seeking an option from the said candidates to give up their candidature for NEET-I. The Court also said that the date of the NEET-II can be rescheduled, if necessary.

Regarding the State Government’s power to legislate on matters relating to admission, the Court referred to the Constitution Bench’s judgment dated 02.05.2016, where it was held that the admission involved two aspects. First, the adoption of setting up of minimum standards of education and coordination of such standards which aspect was covered exclusively by Entry 66 of List I. The second aspect is with regard to implementation of the said standards which was covered by Entry 25 of List III. On the said aspect, the State could also legislate. The two entries overlap to some extent and to that extent Entry 66 of List I prevailed over the subject covered by Entry 25.

The Court further said that the Oversight Committee appointed by this Court vide the aforementioned judgment dated 02.05.2016 shall also oversee the NEET-II examination to be conducted by the CBSE. [MEDICAL & DENTAL COLLEGE v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 480, decided on 09.05.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Clearing the confusion over holding the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in pursuance of Notifications dated 21.12.2010 issued by the Medical Council of India and the Dental Council of India, the Court held that NEET should be held and notwithstanding any order passed by any Court earlier with regard to not holding NEET, this order shall operate.

It was contended that in view of the judgment passed in Christian Medical College, Vellore Vs. Union of India, (2014) 2 SCC 305, it would not be proper to hold NEET and this order should not affect pending matters. The 3 judge bench of A.R. Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and Adarsh K. Goel, JJ rejected the said contention and said that the said judgment has already been recalled in Medical Council of India v. Christian Medical College, Vellore, (2016) 4 SCC 342 and therefore, the Notifications dated 21.12.2010 are in operation as on today. [Sankalp Charitable Trust v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 366decided on 28.04.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Court allowed the petition filed by Centre & Medical Council of India (MCI) seeking review of its judgement scrapping the single common entrance test for medical courses. NEET is conducted for admission in MBBS, BDS and postgraduate courses in all medical colleges. The 3-judge bench headed by the then CJI Altamas Kabir along with A.R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen, JJ had scrapped the common entrance test in Christian Medical College, Vellore v. Union of India, (2013) 14 SCC 539. On 21st January, 2016, it was ordered that the review petition be heard by a 5-judge bench which led to the constitution of a bench comprising of A.R. Dave, Dr. A.K. Sikri, R.K. Agrawal, Adarsh K. Goel and R. Banumathi.
The Court was of the opinion that the aforesaid judgment needed reconsideration as the majority view had not taken into consideration some binding precedents and more particularly, there was no discussion among the members of the Bench before pronouncement of the judgment. [Medical Council of India v. Christian Medical College Vellore, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 305, decided on 11.04.2016]