Is NEET an issue between Center vs. State or an Issue concerning Lakhs of Students?
The fundamental rights and duties including those under Articles 14, 20, 21, 25 and 15, 16, 19, 30 of the Constitution are applicable to all citizens of India.
Our Constitution, under cultural and educational rights states that any section of citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same. No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.
If we go by the above, NEET judgement of Supreme Court has usurped the constitutional rights of Indian Citizens by not considering their fundamental right to education where language should not become a barrier.
The Concurrent List or List-III (Seventh Schedule) is a list of 52 items (though the last item is numbered 47) given in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. The legislative section is divided into three lists: Union List, State List and Concurrent List.Through the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 five subjects were transferred from State to Concurrent List.They are:Education, Forests, Weights & Measures, Protection of Wild Animals and Birds and Administration of Justice.
Concurrent list consists of 52 items. Uniformity is desirable but not essential on items in this list: Marriage and divorce, transfer of property other than agricultural land, education, contracts, bankruptcy and insolvency, trustees and trusts, civil procedure, contempt of court, adulteration of foodstuffs, drugs and poisons, economic and social planning, trade unions, labor welfare, electricity, newspapers, books and printing press, stamp duties.
When such is the clarity on the part of state powers with reference to education, the Supreme Court in its observation of its order dated 9th May 2016 has observed that first the adoption of setting up of minimum standards of education and coordination of such standards which aspect was covered exclusively by Entry 66 of List I. The second aspect is with regard to implementation of the said standards which was covered by Entry 25 of List III. On the said aspect, the State could also legislate. The two entries overlap to some extent and to that extent Entry 66 of List I prevailed over the subject covered by Entry 25.
When we critically analyze Entry 66: Co-ordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education or research and scientific and technical institutions. Entry 66 is a subject matter of co-ordination between center and state for determination of educational standards. Entry 25 gave the power on education to states also. When such is the case, the manner in which the State Governments were not given a chance and the manner in which the Central Government lawyers were vehement in insisting on NEET(by being party for part implementation of NEET for private colleges and favoring CET for government colleges) by forgetting the fact that for 2016-17 it is humanly impossible for students to upgrade themselves in terms of standards and knowledge to meet the requirement of NEET, gives an impression that the case got hijacked between Center vs. State powers. The arguments of the center’s lawyers in contrast to state’s lawyers are very surprising as they were harping only on standards while trying to corner state’s lawyers. Standards are welcome, but have they understood that standards have to evolve but cannot be imposed overnight? Further, imposing an examination on predominantly vernacular India in only English and Hindi is not considered to be a standard at all.
Moreover is it (NEET) the subject matter of only Center and States to deliberate between state and center powers? Are they not concerned about 30 lakh students?
The one-upmanship power game of center’s power vs. state powers has put 30 lakhs students and their futures at stake. The 2.5 months’ time given is not just sufficient, beyond that the students who have already appeared for almost 25 different entrance tests have been put under severe mental stress as the court set aside those state level and other entrance tests of various colleges by delivering the judgment in the Nth hour.
The judgement is a violation of fundamental rights of students as the Verdict of Supreme Court will jeopardize the prospects of lakhs of vernacular students; as English and Hindi are the only media to test the students under NEET for 2016-17. Knowing English is now made as the standard and students who can write the examination in English and Hindi are considered as students of international standards.
May I ask in the same vein the esteemed legal fraternity of India, in which language they express their ailments to doctors or are they fully conversant in English terminology to express their ailments or they just consider themselves as exceptions by forgetting that these young medical aspirants of today have to serve 1.25 billion of vernacular population. In such a scenario, in which language will the doctors have to communicate with the patients of vernacular India? Is it English or their respective languages? The judgement defeats the provision of constitution that no citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.Through the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, education as a subject was transferred from State to Concurrent List.
Partial relief given by Supreme Court on 9th April 2016.
- 2. 5 months’ time given to students to freshly prepare and appear for NEET-II on July 24th. It would be open to the CBSE to reschedule the date of holding NEET-II, if necessary. The NEET-1 appeared students can also appear for NEET-II, but have to forego the result of NEET-I.
- An oversight committee to supervise NEET-II and oversee that NEET-II is held with credibility and NEET-I and II are at par in standards while examining the students.
- State quota seats and all India quota seats remains the same as it used to be. Admission to medical courses is on the basis of NEET only. No separate entrance tests by states or by private colleges.
But, the N’th hour judgement of Supreme Court on NEET still failed to take into consideration or consider holistically the issues involved viz:
- It needs to be kept in mind that NEET (2016-17) examination will be in English and Hindi languages which favor only the Hindi and English medium students. What about the other recognized vernacular medium students in the country? When the medium of entrance examination is only English and Hindi, why lakhs of students being instructed throughout the country in vernacular media?
- 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. It may also be noted that these students have been preparing rigorously for the state level entrance examinations since two years.
- When the basic syllabus is not synchronized among all the states in India and when the curricula are 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. In short, the syllabus CBSE syllabus of two years is to be thoroughly studied in two months. THIS IS JUST IMPOSSIBLE.
- 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 was conducted on May 1st; that means the effective time that was available for students was just 2 days (With just two days left for the first phase of exams, the government has already put extra burden on students though every student deserves equal time for the preparation) and the second phase is now allows NEET phase 1 students with a caveat that they need to forego their NEET1 result.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.
- 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.
- 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. Lot of money and resources, time and energy have been already spent by students and their parents.
- 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 intention of the Central Government and the Supreme Court? Is it satisfying personal egos or working in the interests of lakhs of young students?
Further, the verdict of Supreme Court is an Unmindful Verdict on NEET. Even the Central government lawyers are unmindful of the students’woes. The central government lawyers and the Court have turned it into a fight between Center’s powers Vs. State powers in the NEET verdict. Lakhs of innocent students have been miserably punished.
Earlier, it was shocking to note the remarks of the learned judges who said that, “nothing will happen in the meantime” and it remained true as “nothing favorable has happened to students”. Now it is further shocking to know the way the center’s lawyers converted the NEET case as an issue between Center vs. Sates. That is the irony of the prevailing system.
To sum it up, the system is so pathetically indifferent: the verdict is based on States’ vs. Center’s powers and the Centre’s lawyers are partly for the students and partly for powers as also being totally against the private colleges. Ultimately the students issue remained unattended and the verdict is totally anti-students.
Image from here.
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.