SC to hear a fresh plea on medical entrance test today
The Supreme Court will hear a batch of applications today seeking that NEET for admissions to undergraduate medical courses may not be thrust on the states and they may be allowed to conduct their own entrance examinations.
Yesterday a bench headed by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur has said the hearing by the special bench headed by Justice Anil R. Dave will take place today at 2 p.m. after a battery of senior lawyers, including Gopal Subramaniam appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, and K. K. Venugopal appearing for Association of Private Medical Colleges of Karnataka, mentioned the matter.
Various states, including the associations of private medical colleges are aggrieved by the top court’s Friday order reiterating that admission to undergraduate medical courses will be only through National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) to be conducted by the Central Board of School Education (CBSE).
The first phase of NEET was conducted on Sunday. The second phase will be held on July 24.
In the meantime, a constitution bench of Justice Dave, Justice A.K.Sikri, Justice R.K.Agrawal, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice R. Banumathi on Monday upheld the Madhya Pradesh law providing for common entrance test for admission to medical courses in private professional colleges and regulation of fee. Justice Banumathi gave a separate but concurring judgment.
Speaking for the bench, Justice Sikri said: “There was no violation of right of autonomy of the educational institutions in the CET being conducted by the State or an agency nominated by the state or in fixing fee.”
However, alive to the fact that the central government was pushing for common entrance test NEET, the bench said: “The right of a State to do so (to conduct CET) is subject to a central law.”
“Once the notifications under the central statutes for conducting the CET called ‘NEET’ become operative, it will be a matter between the states and the union, which will have to be sorted out on the touchstone of article 254 of the Constitution.
“We need not dilate on this aspect any further”, the constitution bench said, envisaging that in due course there would the central government’s NEET and Madhya Pradesh’s CET and there would a question which will prevail.
Under Article 254 if a law enacted by the state legislature is inconsistent with the law made by the parliament on a subject falling under the concurrent list, then the central law would prevail. However, the state law would continue to operate in the state if it has been reserved for the consideration of the president and has received his assent.
However, this would not come in the way of parliament to enact a law that would added to, amend or even repeal such a state law.
Noting that the working of the Medical Council of India was not satisfactory, the constitution bench set up a three member committee comprising former chief justice R. M. Lodha, former comptroller and auditor general Vinod Rai and Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences director Shiv Sarin to oversee its working.
“…we do feel that pending consideration at appropriate executive or legislature level, an Oversight Committee needs to be set in place in exercise of powers of this court under article 142 of the constitution to oversee the functioning of the MCI and all other matters considered by the parliamentary committee,” the bench said.
Asking the government to issue notification for the committee, the bench said: “The committee will function till the central government puts in place any other appropriate mechanism after due consideration of the Expert Committee Report.”
Initially the committee, the court said, would function for a period of one year, unless suitable mechanism is brought in place earlier to substitute it.
Directing the listing of the matter after one year, the court hoped that within the said period the central government would come out with an appropriate mechanism.