The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the recently promulgated ordinance to defer implementation of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for State Governments and their affiliated institutions by a year, so that students are provided with enough time to prepare.
The Court directed mentioning of the matter before the CJI Bench in July. It was of the view that the Centre has not denied NEET, but only given an exemption to some States and that an interim order at this stage would create confusion.
The Vacation Bench comprising Justice P.S. Pant and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was hearing a petition filed by Indore-based doctor Mr. Anand Rai, who also claims to be a whistle blower in the Vyapam scam. The petition had sought quashing of the ordinance, and a stay on its operation as interim relief.
“The normal democratic legislative process involves the people's representatives in the two Houses openly enacting a law after full consideration and discussion, an ordinance seeks to circumvent this procedure for it is drafted secretly in government chambers and is promulgated without an open discussion and hence it is becomes even more pertinent that the ordinance making power is not invoked lightly but only when absolutely necessary to do so, and the situation cannot be otherwise met effectively,” the petition reportedly stated.
Mr. Rai had pointed out that the Government itself had accepted before the Apex Court the need for a unified uniform examination for undergraduate and PG levels and was of the opinion that the situation in the present scenario was that NEET ought to be conducted with urgency. “... the present ordinance is a completely contradictory stand by the respondent (Centre) within a span of 4 (four) weeks, this is also a belated stage as the examination itself is to be scheduled within the next 8 (eight) weeks as per the Schedule given by the Respondent Union itself and the discriminating ordinance further creates confusion amongst students,” the petition added.
The decision to issue the ordinance had come after a meeting chaired between Mr. Nadda and other State Health Ministers over the matter. The meeting was convened after the discussion on NEET had found its way to the Lok Sabha last month, with the MPs from both sides of the political divide reportedly demanding that the exam be postponed.
The ordinance allows State Governments to conduct their own admission test this year. Mr. Nadda had however, made it clear that private medical colleges and deemed universities cannot have their entrance exams and will have to take students only through the NEET route.
Expressing disappointment over the decision, Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal had earlier written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to not bring any ordinance which would overturn the Supreme Court order on NEET. Mr. Kejriwal added that opposition against the examination by the Parliamentarians maybe due to the reason that several politicians are running their own private medical colleges.
The Congress party had also alleged that the Government was serving the interest of a medical lobby, which included a large number of politicians and businessmen. Congress spokesperson Mr. Randeep Surjewala rejected the ordinance in toto, demanding that the ordinance be rolled back so that meritorious students get admission on the basis of their merit and the entire system of fleecing students through capitation comes to an end.
“Modi Government is trying to help private medical colleges, who are charging capitation fee of Rs. 60 to 80 lakh from every student aspiring to be a doctor in this country. With this view, NEET, which was espoused by the Congress Government in 2010 and has been a subject matter of litigation till the Supreme Court decided it, is sought to be deferred by way of ordinance,” Mr. Surjewala was quoted as saying.
“Who is Modi Government serving? Are they serving the interest of private medical colleges hold 100 examinations across India at which students spend crores of rupees? Is Modi Government serving the interest of students or a medical lobby just because a large number of politicians and businessmen have interest?” he asked.
The Apex Court had on April 11 ordered all medical colleges, including deemed institutions, to take admissions on the basis of NEET. The Bench, comprising Justice Anil Dave, Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice R.K. Agrawal, Justice A.K. Goel and Justice R. Banumati had observed, “After giving our thoughtful and due consideration, we are of the view that the judgment delivered in Christian Medical College (supra) needs reconsideration. We do not propose to state reasons in detail at this stage so as to see that it may not prejudicially affect the hearing of the matters”. “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.”
It was ruled that NEET would be conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in two languages, English and Hindi. The exam was to be conducted in two phases. All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT), which was considered as the first phase of NEET, was held on May 1. Those students who had not applied for NEET-1 were to be given an opportunity to appear for NEET-2 on July 24.
Following the verdict, several States had requested for more time for implementation of the exam. Maharashtra Medical Education minister Vinod Tawde had declared that the State Government would file a review petition in the Supreme Court. The State’s plea was to bank on the premise that students from HSC Board, appearing for the 85% of the state-level admission quota seats, will not be able to compete with the students from CBSE boards in the NEET because of the difference in syllabus. You may read: NEET not so neat this year?