NEW DELHI: In a significant order, Supreme Court today recalled its controversial judgement scrapping single common entrance test for admission to MBBS, BDS and PG courses in all medical colleges, delivered by then Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir on the day of his retirement.
The recall of 2:1 majority verdict of July 18, 2013, on the ground that it was delivered without any discussion among members of the bench, restores the 2011 notification on the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for common entrance examination, which was quashed.
"The NEET regulations are restored and MCI (Medical Council of India) can conduct the examinations pending the fresh judgement," sources in the Union Health Ministry said about the implication of the order delivered by a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice A R Dave.
The MCI counsel also said the 2011 notification has been "revived" but the call has to be taken by the Centre and MCI on how it will proceed with the medical enterances scheduled in May for the current academic year.
The entrance tests as per the 2011 notification were conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for MMBS and National Board of Examination was entrusted for PG courses.
After the 2013 verdict, there were 6.5 lakhs candidates who had appeared last year for the MMBS entrance for state-run colleges as the private-run collges including the minority institutions were out of its purview.
In today's order, the five judges were unanimous in saying that the July 18, 2013 verdict of the three-judge bench, which had paved the way for private colleges to conduct their own examination, "needs reconsideration" as "the majority view has not taken into consideration some binding precedents".
"Suffice it is to mention that the majority view has not taken into consideration some binding precedents and more particularly, we find that there was no discussion among the members of the Bench before pronouncement of the judgment," the apex court said.
"We, therefore, allow these review petitions and recall the judgment dated July 18, 2013 and direct that the matters be heard afresh. The review petitions stand disposed of as allowed," it said. Justice Dave in the 2013 verdict had given a dissenting verdict, while Justice Vikramjit Sen (since retired) had shared the views and findings of then CJI Kabir on the NEET.
The verdict, delivered on the day when CJI Kabir demitted office, had created a buzz in the apex court corridors as an advocate had posted on a social networking site about the outcome in advance. However, Justice Kabir had reportedly said he was not aware of leakage of the judgment.
Interestingly, Justice Dave had in his dissenting judgement said the three judges of the bench "had no discussion on the subject due to paucity of time" which is normally done.
Allowing the petitions seeking review of the controversial 2013 judgement, the bench also comprising justices A K Sikri, R K Agrawal, Adarsh Kumar Goel and RBanumathi ordered the petitions filed by Christian Medical College, Vellore and others, on which the verdict was delivered, "be heard afresh".