The Supreme Court has upheld All-India National Eligibility cum Entrance Test ('NEET') for admission to AYUSH Under Graduate courses like BAMS, BUMS, BSMS and BHMS.
The bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Deepak Gupta also observed that the minimum standards cannot be lowered even for AYUSH courses.
The Indian Medicine Central Council (Minimum Standards of Education Indian Medicine) Regulations, 1986 were amended by the 2018 Regulations. Regulation 2 (d) of the 2018 Regulations provides that there shall be a uniform entrance examination for all medical institutions, namely the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to under-graduate courses in each academic year and that the NEET examination shall be conducted by an authority designated by the Central Government. The Court was considering the appeals against the High Court judgment that dismissed the challenge against 2018 Notification.
The contention raised before the Apex Court was that the 2018 Regulations are ultra vires the Indian Medicine Central. It was contended that introduction of an all India examination in the form of NEET is beyond the regulation making authority of the Central Council under Section 36 of the Act. Answering the argument, the bench said:
We are in agreement with the contention made on behalf of the students and the Institutions that introduction of an all India examination will not be covered by Section 36 (i), (j) and (k) of the Act. However, Section 36 (p) refers to any matter under the Act for which provision may be made by the Regulations. In our considered opinion, Section 22 which deals with the minimum standards of education in Indian Medicine, covers the topic of an all India common entrance examination.
The bench also referred to the judgment in Veterinary Council of India v. Indian Council of Agricultural Research in which it was held that the Veterinary Council of India is authorized to frame regulations prescribing the standards of veterinary education and such power includes power to make Regulations relating to grant of admissions and veterinary qualifications.
The Court also agreed with the prescription of a minimum percentile for admission to the Under Graduate courses for the year 2019-2020 observing that the minimum standards cannot be lowered even for AYUSH courses.
"We agree. Doctors who are qualified in Ayurvedic, Unani and Homeopathy streams also treat patients and the lack of minimum standards of education would result in half-baked doctors being turned out of professional colleges. Non-availability of eligible candidates for admission to AYUSH Under Graduate courses cannot be a reason to lower the standards prescribed by the Central Council for admission"
Case name: UNION OF INDIA vs. FEDERATION OF SELF-FINANCED AYURVEDIC COLLEGES PUNJAB & ORS. Case no.: : Civil Appeal No.603 of 2020Counsel: Sr. Adv P.S. Patwalia, ASG Pinky AnandCoram: Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Deepak Gupta
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