An Overview of NEET Judgement By Apex Court 

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This post is written by Shelal Lodhi Rajput  a 1st-year law student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune

NEET Will Be Applicable To All Medical Institutions For Admission, Not in Violation of Any Minority Rights or Fundamental Rights: SC

In an important judgment, the Apex court ruled that the NEET [National Eligibility-cum-Entrance-Test] will apply to private unaided minority professional institutes for admission into MBBS, MD, BDS and MDS courses, also Supreme court re-stated the principles governing minority educational institutions under Article 30 of the constitution of India and said there is no violation of  fundamental rights.

The Supreme court dealing in the case of Christian Medical College Vellore Association v. Union of India, ruled out that NEET is to bring the education within the realm of charity which character it has lost. The judgement was delivered by a three-judge bench comprised of Justice Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and MR Shah. The question on which the bench was called upon is to judge the validity of the amendment made to Section 10D of the Indian Medical Council Act of 1856, regulations thereunder, and similar provisions inserted in the Dentists Act & Regulations. A bunch of petitioners in which primary petitioner is Christian Medical College, Vellore had their argument against the said amendment impinged upon the rights of private unaided institutions and minority institutions, as NEET was imposed on them. As these institutions already had their own admission tests and criteria for student admissions in their institutions. Also, there are two other arguments which is based on fundamental rights which is also rejected by supreme court. The primary petitioner in this case, had fighting the matter since 2011 when the idea of NEET comes up to floated across the country, when in 2012 Madras high court delivered a judgment against them, they moved the Apex court in the same year itself. The Christian Medical college opted against carrying on with NEET admissions when it was first conducted on May 5, 2013, in the subsequent year the institution managed to secure an exemption also from an order of state government, to not follow NEET examination and admitted students through their procedure, they are contending that they are not opposing NEET but they have their own criteria for admitting students and if NEET is imposed they can’t practice their procedure of conducting interviews.

In 108-page long judgement the court noted that the petitioners argued that the NEET notification violated the fundamental rights of unaided minority institution which is guaranteed by constitution of India under Article 30. To answer this question the bench referred 11 Judge bench decision in T.M.A Pai Foundation, (2002) 8 SCC 481, the judgement noted that the right to establish and administer minority institutions, that Article 30(1) cannot be such as to override the national interest or to prevent government from framing regulations in that behalf and any regulation framed in the national interest must necessarily apply to all educational institutions, whether run by minority. Also, court held in T.M.A Pai that:

“The unaided minority institutions under Article 30(1) of the Constitution of India have the right to admit students, but the merit may be determined by common entrance test and the rights under Article 30(1) is not absolute so as to prevent the government from making any regulations It is open to state/concerned bodies to frame regulations with respect to affiliation and recognition, to provide a proper academic atmosphere”

Also, in P.A. Inamdar and Ors. V. State of Maharashtra and ors.,(2005) 6 SCC 537, the court held that Article 30 of the constitution can’t be a hinderance for state for taking steps which made for purpose of securing transparency and recognition of merit in the matter of admission, and the conditions of recognition are binding on such institutions. Apart from this two court also referred other precedent and answered the question that NEET notification is not is in violation with Article 30 of constitution of India. Based on these precedents the court said that:

“Balancing the rights is constitutional intendment in the national and more enormous public interest. Regulatory measures cannot be said to be exceeding the concept of limited governance. The regulatory measures in question are for the improvement of the public health and is a step forward.”

Also, court said that the rights available under Article 30 are not also violated by provisions craved out in Section 10D of the Medical council Act and the Dentist Act and Regulations. By addressing this question court said there is a concept of limited interference by government in affairs of minority institutions and which is not violated here by NEET notification. The court said

“The rights to administer an institution under Article 30 of the Constitution are not above the law and other Constitutional provisions. Reasonable regulatory measures can be provided without violating such rights available under Article 30 of the Constitution to administer an institution. Professional educational institutions constitute a class by themselves. Specific measures to make the administration of such institutions transparent can be imposed.”

The Apex court stated that the uniform entrance test, NEET tests proportionality and it is completely reasonable. Also, the arguments by petitioner that it is in violation of Article 19(1)(g) is rejected by court that right is not absolute and there may be reasonable restriction which can be put up by state to limit the use of the said article, by imposing reasonable restrictions. The entrance exam is conducted in national interest and is necessary to eliminate the flaws of older system and to get a uniformity and to create a platform through which all students have an equal opportunity by just giving one exam. The court stated that the regulatory measures are meant for the correct functioning of the institutions and to make the high standards of education.  The court also noted that NEET was needed to prevent the malpractices and to bring in transparency in the admission procedure. The bench observed:

“The rights under Article 19(1)(g) are not absolute and are subject to reasonable restriction in the interest of the student’s community to promote merit, recognition of excellence, and to curb the malpractices.”

The court also stated that NEET is first step to weed out the evils from the education system, the entrance exam is necessary to eliminate the loopholes in older system. Negating the arguments of petitioner’s court held that NEET qualifies the test of proportionality and is reasonable, it is intended to check out several maladies which crept into medical education, to prevent corruption, to stop commercialization of educational institutes and bring more transparency.

Finally, the judgement passed byv three judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra held that

“Resultantly, we hold that there is no violation of the rights of the unaided/aided minority to administer institutions under Articles 19(1) (g) and 30 read with Articles 25, 26 and 29(1) of the Constitution of India by prescribing the uniform examination of NEET for admissions in the graduate and postgraduate professional courses of medical as well as dental science. The provisions of the Act and regulation cannot be said to be ultra vires or taking away the rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India under Article 30(1) read with Articles 19(1)(g), 14, 25, 26 and 29(1).”

The Apex court upholds NEET for institute across country, by quoting that it is in National interest and does not violated minority rights. All minority institutions equally bound to comply with the NEET now.

References:

1]  Live mint: https://www.livemint.com/education/news/sc-upholds-neet-examination-for-institutes-across-country-11588165410613.html

2] Live law: https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/article-30-doesnt-prevent-state-from-imposing-regulations-to-make-administration-of-minority-educational-institutions-transparent-sc-155979?infinitescroll=1

3] SCC Observer https://www.scobserver.in/the-desk/determination-of-minority-status?slug=t-m-a-pai-foundation-v-state-of-karnataka

4] Bar and Bench https://www.barandbench.com/news/breaking-no-fundamental-right-violation-in-making-neet-applicable-to-private-minority-institutes-supreme-court

5] https://img.etimg.com/thumb/width-640,height-480,imgsize-235465,resizemode-1,msid-75462452/neet-shall-be-common-entrance-test-for-medical-admissions-sc.jpg

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