The Patna High Court last week quashed a press communique issued by the State government, prescribing that admissions to Ayurvedic, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) courses shall only be allowed through National Eligibility-cum- Entrance Test (NEET).
The judgement was delivered by Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh, while hearing a petition filed by the Association of Private Unani Medical Colleges in the State of Bihar through its Secretary Md. Shafiur Rahman. The petition had challenged the press communique dated 23 March, 2018, issued in compliance with a letter issued by the Union Ministry of AYUSH.
The court pointed out that NEET is held for admissions to MBBS and BDS courses in the light of the provisions under Section 10D of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Section 10D of the Dentists Act, 1948.
It then opined that NEET qualification cannot be thrust upon AYUSH courses in the absence of any amendment to the Indian Medical Central Council Act, 1970 or the Indian Medicine Central Council (Minimum Standards of Education in Indian Medicine) Amendment Regulations, 2016.
Further, on a comparison of the Regulations regulating admission to the Unani course and the information bulletin for NEET 2018, the court found that NEET does not take into account the eligibility conditions of admission to Unani (UG) Courses and is not structured for admissions to such courses.
The court therefore ruled, “I am of the considered view that NEET could not be said to be compulsory for AYUSH (UG) Courses till necessary amendments are introduced in the Act and Regulations governing admission. The decision of the Union Government to provide NEET as compulsory for admission to AYUSH (UG) Courses, in my view, is unauthorised and contrary to the Regulations framed under Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970.
Letter dated 12.02.2018 of the Central Government is accordingly set aside. The press communique dated 23.03.2018 issued by the State Government of Bihar (Annexure-11) is consequently not sustainable and is accordingly quashed.”
While allowing the petition, the court further emphasised on the importance of a common entrance test for a professional course like the one in question. It added that if the Central or the State Government fails to organise such an entrance test for the Academic Session 2018-19, the Association of the Institutions, imparting course of Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery, shall be at liberty to arrange a combined entrance test for admission to such courses. It, however, clarified that such combined entrance test must have the approval of the State Government or the Central Government or the Central Council of India Medicine.
On being informed that the last date for admission to the course is some time in November, the parties were directed to act expeditely to meet the deadline for admissions.