Ruling that "only NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) would enable students to get admission to MBBS or BDS studies", the Supreme Court Monday turned down a batch of appeals by various states to conduct their ownmedical admission tests for the current academic session. A bench led by Justice Anil R Dave, however, allowed all candidates to appear for the second phase of NEET –scheduled for July 24, in view of grievances that the students did not have enough time to prepare for the exam.
In accordance with the court order, CBSE's AIPMT on May 1 was considered as the first phase of NEET wherein over six lakh students had appeared. "To allay any such apprehension, we direct 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, be permitted to appear in NEET-II, subject to seeking an option from the said candidates to give up their candidature for NEET-I," said the bench, also comprising Justices Shiva Kirti Singh and Adarsh K Goel. The apex court permitted the central government, CBSE and Medical Council of India (MCI) to reschedule the date of holding NEET-II if they deem so necessary. The conduct of NEET will be monitored by a court-appointed panel, headed by former Chief Justice of India R M Lodha. It declined to modify its April 28 order whereby the bench had fixed the timeline for conducting the common all-India medical entrance test for admissions to MBBS and BDS courses while clarifying that its directive will supersede all other orders relating to medical admissions. With this clarification, the court had made it unequivocal that all other admission tests, already held or scheduled forlater, for admission to government colleges, deemed universities, private medical colleges, minority and linguistic minority colleges, stand scrapped.
Later, state governments, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, sought a modification of this order to enable them conduct their separate exam for this year as one-time measure. But the bench on Monday referred to a Constitution Bench judgment last week, in which the Supreme Court hadupheld the validity of a common admission test (CET) to be conducted by state governments as also the NEET for admissions to medical colleges. The five-judge Bench had said when the central government issues a notification for NEET and the state governments also want to conduct their own CETs, Article 254 of the Constitution would come into play. Under Article 254, higher education has been placed in a concurrent list with both the state and central governments having powers to make laws. But when the central government makes a law or issues a notification such as NEET, it would override the state governments' laws. Quoting from the larger bench judgment, the court on Monday said that while the state governments had the legislative competence to make laws for regulating standards of medical education under the Concurrent List but after the central government makes a law, the Centre's power under the Union List will prevail upon the states'
"Prima facie, we do not find any infirmity in the NEET regulation on the ground that it affects the rights of the States or the private institutions. Special provisions for reservation of any category are not subject matter of the NEET nor rights of minority are in any manner affected by NEET. NEET only provides for conducting entrance test for eligibility for admission to the MBBS/BDS course," added the bench.