The Careless 'Unneat' Supreme Court Order on NEET; Why is the Supreme Court of India not rendering natural justice?

Dr.V.V.L.N. Sastry

1 May 2016 4:20 AM GMT

  • The Careless Unneat Supreme Court Order on NEET; Why is the Supreme Court of India not rendering natural justice?

    “Nothing will happen in the meantime. Matter had been heard by the bench and it is over for now, please allow the examination to be conducted"- this is the response of the bench comprising of  Justices A. K. Sikri and R. Banumathi of Supreme Court of India, when a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T. S. Thakur conducted a special hearing on Saturday to deal with pollution in Delhi...

    “Nothing will happen in the meantime. Matter had been heard by the bench and it is over for now, please allow the examination to be conducted"- this is the response of the bench comprising of  Justices A. K. Sikri and R. Banumathi of Supreme Court of India, when a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T. S. Thakur conducted a special hearing on Saturday to deal with pollution in Delhi and did not allow the plea seeking urgent hearing for modification of the April 28 order passed by another bench with regard to the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET).

    The observation came when lawyers representing some students, said that the order on NEET needed to be modified as students who had prepared for the state-level entrance exams will find it difficult to prepare for the NEET in such a short span of time.

    The court, for the time being refused to entertain the plea and asked the lawyers concerned to file an application which would be heard by the regular bench, hearing the case. A bench of Justices Anil R. Dave, S.K. Singh and A.K. Goel had passed an order in favor of NEET on 28th April 2016.

    Why is our justice system so callous in its observations with the kind of remarks like “nothing will happen”. What do they mean? The apex court delivered its verdict in the N’th hour and so much so happenedjust in before it delivered its judgement. Why don’t they consider the aspects holistically before delivering the judgment? Why are they playing with the lives of 9 lakh Medical Courses aspirants?

    The N’th hour judgement of Supreme Court on NEET failed to take into consideration or consider holistically the issues involved viz:

    • NEET is an entrance examination for medical courses to be conducted and is conducted by CBSE.
    • In India states have the freedom to have their own syllabus and many state boards have their own syllabus which is different from CBSE syllabus.
    • The examination conducted by CBSE is many tads higher in standard when compared to the state board syllabus that lakhs of students have pursued through their 10+2 examination.
    • When the basic syllabus is not synchronized among all the states in India and when the curriculum is different, how can the court order for a common entrance test throughout India?
    • If the students following state syllabus are to follow only diktat of Supreme Court then lakhs of students in a short span of time have to upgrade their knowledge to CBSE levels.
    • Whereas the Government of India upon Supreme Court order on Friday April 29, through the Health Ministry reported that, AIPMT will be known as NEET phase 1 and it will be conducted on May 1st; that means the effective time available for students is just 2 days (With just two days left for the first phase of exams, the government cannot put extra burden on students. Every student deserves equal time for the preparation) and the second phase is only for students who did not apply for AIPMT i.e. NEET phase 1, while the second phase will be held on July 24. The results for the same will be declared on August 17. The syllabi for the Central Board of Secondary Education and the state boards are different and students would not have enough time to prepare for the examination.
    • The arbitrage for second phase in-terms of upgradation in syllabus for the state syllabus students is not just enough. At the same time, what is the need to phase out the examination and conduct the same in two phases with two different set of papers?Why cannot the exam be held on the same date with the postponement of May 1st Also, as students, they apply for different entrance examinations but they may not have prepared for the same. Then why is the imposition that those who have applied for AIPMT cannot apply for NEET-Phase 2? These students also need to be given a fair chance and time to prepare for the Phase 2 examination.
    • Further in some states like Maharashtra, the state entrance exam is held only on the class 12 syllabus. NEET would be based on the syllabi of both class 11 and class 12. Now with this scenario, what is the future for these students? The Supreme Court’s verdict has only put such students under severe stress and they are spending sleepless nights.
    • Now the same NEET held in two phases for the same universe of students competing for Medical admissions with two different sets of papers and what if, one set of examination favors some students and the other set disfavor some students? Why this anomaly? Is it not unfair treatment to students?
    • Further, though the number of students who would be taking the July 24 exam is estimated to be 2.5 lakhs, the actual number would definitely be close to 5 lakhs considering the vernacular medium students.
    • Further, as the order relating to compulsory NEET as the only examination was delivered, a few states and private institutions have already conducted their respective examinations.
    • It needs to be kept in mind that the examinees are young ambitious kids and such unmindful verdicts should not become the cause for the sensitive lot to take drastic steps.

    So what is the Supreme Court’s intention? To provide equal opportunities to all the students or to pass unmindful orders to satisfy the egos of few individuals involved in the whole process?

    Further, the verdict of Supreme Court is an Unmindful Verdict on NEET. It is high time for the central legislation to take charge, if Supreme Court doesn't consider requests for change in its order in the interests of equity and justice.  It is shocking to note the remarks of the learned judges who say that, “nothing will happen in the meantime”; this shows their indifferent attitude.

    In the same vein the justice system needs to answer further questions on NEET, they are:

    “What will happen to the vernacular medium students who have studied in state-run schools?" They might not find the NEET comfortable.

    The Verdict of Supreme Court will jeopardize the prospects of lakhs of vernacular students.

    Students appearing for the common medical entrance test scheduled to start this Sunday would have to crack questions set in English and Hindi unlike the exam’s 2013 edition when papers were also set in six other languages.

    Majority of the students who appear for these entrance examinations come from vernacular background. They may not be aware of the terminology used in English and Hindi.

    According to CBSE sources, they have their own excuses; because of time constraints and the arrangements that have to be made, the board couldn’t allow aspirants to opt for question papers in regional languages. The same CBSE confirms to the court that it doesn't have any time constraints in holding the examination. Whether Supreme Court is functioning to please CBSE or CBSE is functioning to please Supreme Court, nobody knows, but they both have been unmindful of lakhs of vernacular students.

    If the SC doesn't bother about equity and justice and sticks to its own guns as it has been doing in NEET case, then it is high time to think about the apex court justice system too...

    The last remedy is for the central government to freshly enact a legislation towards CBSE holding the examination in all recognized vernacular languages and till then CBSE should not be allowed to continue with NEET examinations.

    In 2013, the first and the last time the board had conducted the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), candidates could choose question papers set in Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Bengali and Assamese, apart from Hindi and English.

    State governments had then demanded that the Medical Council of India (MCI), the regulator on health education, allow the test to be held in their regional languages. The MCI had accordingly taken up the matter with the CBSE.

    This time, the May 1 exam – or NEET-1 as the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) is being referred to – and the NEET-2, the second phase of the common test scheduled for July 24, would be held in English and Hindi. Both will be pen-and-paper exams.

    According to the sources said the CBSE would seek online applications from May 21 to June 20 for the NEET-2. Students who were not appearing for the AIPMT but banking on other entrance tests conducted by about 10 state governments and exams conducted by individual institutions would have to apply afresh for the NEET-2. These parallel exams have become irrelevant after the apex court’s decision on Thursday.

    The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET-UG is an entrance examination in India for students who wish to study any graduate medical course (MBBS), dental course (BDS) or postgraduate course (MD / MS) in government or private medical colleges in India.

    On Thursday, the CBSE had presented a schedule for holding the exam for this academic session, after which the court ruled that NEET would replace the AIPMT exam held by the board. The first phase of the examination will be held on May 1. Nearly 6.5 lakh students are expected to take it.

    The second phase has been scheduled for July 24 in which 2.5 lakh candidates will appear and results for the two phases will be announced on August 17. The admission process, based on the single test will be over by September 30.

    The basis for the Supreme Court judgment is based on the premise that “In the absence of a common entrance test, students seeking admission to the MBBS or BDS course had to make multiple applications and take scores of tests, and this led to arbitrariness and complaints against college managements”.

    But the court is blind to the fact that 9 lakhs students in India aspiring for medical courses are not from the same educational background to appear for common entrance test, which Supreme Courthas to recognize. Before passing such orders, firstupgrade the state syllabus students and bring them at par with the CBSE syllabus or give them enough time and conduct the examination in regional languages and just do not restrict the examination to be held in English and Hindi. There are many vernacular students in this country and they are lakhs in numbers and do not deprive themof equal opportunities in the name of All Indian Entrance Test.

    The Supreme Court by delivering the verdict, has confused the whole system and 9 lakhs students are under pressure as they are caught between different syllabi, between the so called NEET 2016 and the separate entrance tests that have already been held and are still being held by states and other private colleges/deemed universities. Is it the intention of the court to favor some with its judgement?It definitely points towards this intention, unless it revises its order.

    So the following needs to be done before NEET is implemented. Yes, NEET as a single exam would be appreciated; it would definitely be less stressful on students in terms of having to write just one examination and also would lighten the burden on the pockets of their parents who are presently shelling out thousands of rupees to just get their wards to apply for these various examinations. All this positives provided:

    1. The proposed system is based on an equal level of syllabus throughout the entire country by upgrading the state level syllabi to bring them at par with the CBSE syllabus
    2. The proposed system caters to the vernacular medium students. It needs to be kept in mind that examination in the Hindi language only favors the Hindi speaking belt of the country and Urban English medium students. What about the other recognized vernacular medium students in the country?

    If urgent measures are not taken, the youth will lose faith in both judiciary and legislature in their formative years of education, when the system is playing with their careers and giving them nightmares.

    Dr.V.V.L.N. Sastry is a Researcher in Law (Criminal Justice) at Walden University, U.S.A.

    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of LIVELAW and LIVELAW does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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