NEW DELHI: In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to graduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses, does not violate the rights of minorities under the Constitution.
Describing NEET as a regulatory measure that is in the larger national interest, the court said minority institutions, deemed universities and all other private colleges must abide with the norms, adding they cannot claim a violation of their rights to admit students.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said, “It intends to weed out evils from the system and various malpractices, which decayed the system. The regulatory measures in no way interfere with the rights to administer the institution by the religious or linguistic minorities.”
The ruling came on a bunch of petitions originally filed in 2012 by the Christian Medical College, Vellore and others, challenging the notifications for NEET issued by the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Dental Council of India (DCI).
These notifications were struck down in 2013 by a three-judge bench with 2:1 majority. The court had then held that MCI and DCI did not have the power to introduce NEET through these notifications.
However, hearing review petitions against the 2013 judgment, a five-judge bench in April 2016 opened the cases for fresh hearing and permitted NEET to be conducted in the meantime. The main argument put forth by the petitioners was that NEET took away the right of the religious and linguistic minority institutions to administer their business, including the right to admit students from the minority community in terms of their own standards.
But this argument did not find favour with the bench which emphasised that rights of the minority institutions under Articles 19(1)(g) and 30 read with Articles 25, 26 and 29(1) do not come in the way of securing transparency and recognition of merits in matter of admissions.
Holding that the “State has the right to frame regulatory regime for aided/ unaided minority/private institutions, as mandated by the Constitution,” the bench ruled there cannot be any other examination for admitting students.