New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions into all medical and dental colleges. The apex court ruled that the Medical Council of India cannot conduct a unified examination.
The bench of Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir, Justices Vikramajeet Sen and Anil Dave gave a split verdict on the issue. Justices Kabir and Sen ruled against the MCI's single entrance exam, Justice Anil Dave was in favour of the examination.
The bench said that the MCI notification was in violation of Articles 19, 25, 26, 29 and 30 of the Constitution. Justice A R Dave said he did not share the view of Chief Justice Kabir and Justice Sen. "Holding of National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) is legal, practical and is the need of the society. Hence, I have dissented," Justice Dave said.
The apex court, however, made it clear that its verdict will not affect the admissions which have already taken place.
The apex court also ruled that private medical colleges will conduct their own entrance examination through their associations while the states and Central government will conduct their own tests.
The apex court dealt with the legal aspect and said the MCI can regulate rules for standardisation of excellence in education but cannot conduct a unified examination.
Striking down NEET, the Supreme Court said that the Medical Council Act does not allow the MCI to 'conduct' exams, it only gives the body power to frame guidelines.
The NEET judgement also stand for those institutes that did not conduct any examination.
The court's decision came on 115 petitions challenging the MCI notification on NEET for admission to MBBS and post-graduate medical courses conducted in colleges across the country.
Cardiologist Dr Devi Shetty, who was the member of the MCI when NEET was conceptualised, said the intention was to have one common exam so that students do not have run across the country. "We did not want a common admission process. The country can not let that happen. The purpose was to reduce the misuse," he said.
Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka CEO S Srikanth said, "What is important is the quality of medical education. The admissions are mostly based on money factor and not the merit factor."
In an interim order passed in May this year, the apex court had directed the MCI and all private colleges to start their admission process, as per the old guidelines where the MCI, state governments and private colleges conduct their separate exams.
Aspiring medicos have been arguing that a single NEET will make the admission process simpler and more transparent. A sting operation conducted by CNN-IBN in April this year, however, had exposed how private medical colleges were illegally selling medical seats for crores of rupees.
The medical education standoff started with the MCI proposing a common entrance test for MBBS, Dental and PG Medical courses. The proposal was, however, opposed by the private medical and dental colleges and they moved the apex court. The court then ordered the MCI to conduct NEET and also allowed all states and private colleges to conduct their entrance exams but asked them not to declare results till the verdict is pronounced.
Most of the students believe that an all-India common entrance examination will streamline the entire admission process and make it more transparent.
(With additional inputs from PTI)