Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and MR Shah, JJ has held that prescribing uniform examination of NEET for admissions in the graduate and postgraduate professional courses of medical as well as dental science is not in 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. It said,

The Court was hearing the challenge to the provisions of Medical Council Act, 196 and Dentists Act, 1948 and Regulations thereto by which a uniform NEET examination was made mandatory for admissions in graduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses. It was argued before the curt that State had no power to compel an unaided minority institution to admit students through a single centralized national examination such as NEET. The unaided minority professional colleges have the fundamental rights to choose the method and manner in which to admit its students, subject to satisfying the triple test of having a fair, transparent, and non­exploitative process.

The Court, in a 108-pages log verdict, referred to a long list of judgments dealing with the right of unaided/aided minorities and the scope of rights under Article 19(1)(g) and Article 30 of the Constitution and came to the conclusion that,

“rights under Articles 19(1)(g) and 30 read with Articles 25, 26 and 29(1) of the Constitution of India do not come in the way of securing transparency and recognition of merits in the matter of admissions. It is open to regulating the course of study, qualifications for ensuring educational standards. it is open to imposing reasonable restrictions in the national and public interest.”

Unimpressed with the present education system, the bench said that by and large, at present education is devoid of its real character of charity, it has become a commodity. To weed out evils from the system, which were eating away fairness in admission process, defeating merit and aspiration of the common incumbent with no means, the State has the right to frame regulatory regime for aided/unaided minority/private institutions as mandated by Directives Principles, Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

On Article 19(1)(g)

The fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g) was subject to reasonable restriction in the interest of the student’s community to promote merit, recognition of excellence, and to curb the malpractices. Uniform Entrance Test qualifies the test of proportionality and is reasonable.

The minority institutions are equally bound to comply with the conditions imposed under the relevant Acts and Regulations to enjoy affiliation and recognition, which apply to all institutions. In case they have to impart education, they are bound to comply with the conditions which are equally applicable to all.

“There is no right given to maladminister the education derogatory to the national interest. The quality of medical education is imperative to sub­serve the national interest, and the merit cannot be compromised.”

On Article 30

The rights to administer an institution under Article 30 of the Constitution are not above the law and other Constitutional provisions and hence, are not violated by provisions carved out in Section 10D of the MCI Act and the Dentists Act and Regulations framed by MCI/DCI. 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 regulatory measures by prescribing NEET is to bring the education within the realm of charity which character it has lost. It intends to weed out evils from the system and various malpractices which decayed the system.”

Scope of Government interference

While the Court agreed that there was no doubt as to the concept of limited Government and least interference is welcomed, it however, said that in which field and to what extent balancing with the larger public and national interest is required.

The Constitution provides a limitation on the power of the State to interfere with life, liberty, and rights, however, the concept of limited government cannot be extended to a level when it defeats the very national interest.”

Holding that the impugned provisions qualify the doctrine of proportionality, the Court explained that the maladies with which professional education suffers in this country are writ large and that the regulatory framework created by the MCI/ DCI is concomitant of conditions, affiliation and recognition, and providing central examination in the form of NEET cannot be said to be violative of the rights under Articles 19(1)(g) and 30. The regulatory framework is not restrictive, but caters to the effective enjoyment of the rights conferred under the aforesaid provisions.

[Christian Medical Vellore Association v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 423  , decided on 29.04.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: Manoj K. Tiwari, J. contemplated a writ petition filed by the petitioners who participated in NEET undergraduate exam conducted by Central Board of Secondary Education and had qualified the said exam.

The petitioners were eligible for admission and according to the petitioners, they opted for Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Jolly Grant, Dehradun for admission against a State Quota seat, as they are permanent residents of State of Uttarakhand. It was contended by the petitioner that the said Institute charged an exorbitant fee as tuition fee and a sum of Rs 9 lakhs was required to be deposited by the petitioner.

Counsel for the petitioners Prateek Tripathi submitted that the fee, which was being charged by the respective Institute, was without any authority of law inasmuch as it had not been determined by the Fee Regulatory Committee.

On the other hand, Sanjeev Agarwal, counsel appearing for Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, submitted that fee, which was being charged, had been duly determined by the Fee Regulatory Committee and had also been notified by the State Government.

The Court observed that petitioners were yet to be admitted in the said Institute and they had an option for some other Medical College in the second or subsequent counseling and as the quantum of the fee was known to the petitioners already, therefore, the Court was not inclined to interfere in the matter at this stage. However, it was needed for the ends of justice that petitioners to appear before Secretary, Higher Education, Uttarakhand and were allowed to represent themselves. It was also observed that to abide by the deadline for depositing such a huge amount was harsh and practically impossible to follow; therefore, it was provided that petitioner was eligible to participate in the second round of counseling.[Dushyant v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 573, decided on 11-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Harinder Singh Sidhu & Arun Monga, JJ. dismissed the writ petition on the ground that there was no legal infirmity in the action of the State of Punjab to adopt the wider definition of the NRI in the domain of policymaking.

A writ petition was made against Clause 17 of the Notification whereby, definition and scope of Non-Resident Indian (NRI) have been restricted to include only an NRI and/or children of NRI.

The facts of the case were that the petitioner took the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (for short ‘NEET’) conducted for admission to MBBS/BDS in medical colleges situated all over India including the State of Punjab. The petitioner qualified the cut off marks prescribed in the examination and was eligible to apply for admission in the medical colleges. The petitioner was primarily aggrieved by the action of the State in excluding the first degree relations of NRI and wards thereof from the realm of the definition of ‘NRI’.

Pankaj Bansal, Counsel for the petitioner submits that by restricting the Category I to mean ‘an NRI and/or children of NRI’ results in hostile discrimination towards the students in the State of Punjab. NRI reservation was provided in all the medical colleges of India wherein a wider meaning has been given to word ‘NRI’ by including the first degree relations of NRI and wards of NRI within the meaning of word ‘NRI’. Learned counsel for the petitioner has also emphatically argued that restriction on the scope of the word ‘NRI’ has no reasonable nexus with the objectives sought to be achieved. He submits that if the scope of the definition of NRI is widened then the wider pool of talent would be available and the same will thus advance the requisite merit. The petitioner put reliance on the case of  P.A. Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra, (2005) 6 SCC 537, wherein the Supreme Court has discussed the definition of NRI.

Rashmi Attri and M.S. Longia, Counsels for the respondents opposed the impugned notification on the ground that there are quite a large number of NRIs and in its wisdom, the State Government had rightly restricted the scope of the definition of NRI to mean either ‘an NRI or children of the NRI’. Enlarging the scope of the same to first degree relatives and/ or the wards of the NRI would open flood gates for the applicants to seek the benefit of NRI quota.

High Court thus opined that purpose of narrowing down the definition of ‘NRI’ vide clause 17, does not miss the very ratio laid down in Inamdar’s case, inasmuch as, it has been clearly laid down by the Apex Court that under the garb of NRI quota less meritorious students who can afford to spend more money get admission even though neither the student is an NRI nor his/ her parents are NRIs.

Thus, the Court was of the opinion that the purpose of restricting the definition is to give weightage only to the genuine cases where the children of those parents who have migrated to other countries to get the benefit of education in their native country. Court further added that “we also do not find any merit in the argument that the narrowing of the scope of the definition of ‘NRI’ by the State is hostile discrimination qua the students of Punjab. It is open for the State Government to make any policy with regard to the residents of the State and no interference is warranted by this Court in the domain of policymaking. It is up to the State to widen or narrow the scope of the definition of ‘NRI’ and such exercise of power would not amount to any discrimination.” Thus the petition was dismissed.[Asmita Kaur v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 937, decided on 26-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Chakradhari Sharan Singh, J., allowed the application which challenged press communiqué issued by State Government whereby NEET qualification was made mandatory for admission to AYUSH courses.

Facts of the case were that petitioner was aggrieved by a press communiqué released by the Health Department, Government of Bihar making NEET mandatory exam for entrance in AYUSH courses. Petitioner contended that the communiqué was provided after the last date of filing form for NEET was over and that requirement for AYUSH courses were distinct from one required in MBBS/BDS courses as NEET is an entrance exam specifically for MBBS and BDS. Whereas respondent defended the communiqué by stating it to be a result of Supreme Court judgment which stated the requirement of a common entrance test for admission to medical courses with a sole purpose of granting admission to meritorious students. The question before Court was to see if NEET qualification can be made a mandatory requirement for admission to AYUSH courses without amending the Indian Medical Council Act, 1970 and regulations thereunder. Court answered the above question by stating that without amendment in Act and Regulation, NEET qualification cannot be made mandatory for entry into other courses than MBBS/BDS.

High Court was of the view that the notification came after the last date for filing the application form of NEET was over and that syllabus and requirement for AYUSH courses were different from MBBS/BDS. The decision of Union government making NEET mandatory for admission to AYUSH (UG) courses was found to be contrary to regulations framed under the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970. With the above view, Court set aside the letter of the Central government and quashed the press communiqué issued by State government. [Vihar Private Unani Medical Colleges v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine Pat 1857, order dated 10-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: After Senior Advocate Arvind Datar brought to the notice of the Court that the Central Board of Secondary Education (C.B.S.E.) has passed an order directing all the students to produce Aadhar number to register themselves for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) examination, the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ, directed:

“the students who intend to register in the said Board for NEET examination and for any other All India examinations, need not necessarily produce the Aadhaar number for the present, but they may be asked to produce any alternative identification number, such as ration card, passport, voter ID, driving licence and bank account.”

The Court also asked C.B.S.E. to upload the necessary information on their website so that students are not affected.

The said interim order was passed during Day 15 of the Aadhaar Hearing where Senior Advocates like Shyam Divan, Kapil Sibal, Gopal Subramanium and Arvind Datar have been arguing on the issue of Aadhaar being made mandatory by the Government despite various interim orders passed by the Supreme Court. Senior Advocate and Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had begun his submissions on the issue of Aadhaar Act, 2016 being passed as a Money Bill. He will continue his arguments on the next date of hearing i.e. March 13, 2018, after which the Court will decide on whether or not to pass an interim order on the issue of extending the deadline for linking Aadhaar to Bank Accounts. As per the present deadline, it is mandatory to get the Aadhaar linked to the Bank accounts by March 31, 2018. The Court had earlier, on 15.12.2017, extended the deadline for linkage with Schemes, Bank Accounts, Mobile Phones from December 31, 2017 to March 31, 2018. [Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No.494/2012, order dated 07.03.2018]

Also, read the highlights from the ongoing Aadhaar Hearing before the 5-judge bench:

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Arvind Datar’s submissions, click here and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium’s submissions, click herehere and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s arguments, click here, here and here.

Looking for the detailed submissions of Senior Advocate Shyam Divan? Read the highlights from Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 of the hearing.

Hot Off The PressNews

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar continued his submissions before the 5-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ on Day 15 of the Aadhaar Hearing. Earlier, on Day 14, he had argued on the issue of Linking Bank Accounts to Aadhaar as per Rule 9 of Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002. After Arvind Datar concluded his submissions, Senior Advocate P. Chidambaram began his arguments on the issue of Aadhaar Act, 2016 being introduced as a Money Bill.

On the question of extending the deadline for linking Aadhaar, Chandrachud, J said:

“we cannot extend the dates for linking at the last moment because the financial institutions will be in a state of uncertainty till then thinking 31st March to be the last date for linking.”

The Court, however, said that it will pass an interim order, if required, on the issue on the next date of hearing i.e. 13.03.2018, after P. Chidambaram has concluded his submissions.

Below are the highlights from Day 15 of Aadhaar Hearing:

Arvind Datar’s submissions:

  • If you don’t give Aadhaar, your accounts will become inoperable. It can’t be called consent. There’s no option to opt out.
  • Aadhaar was preceded by NIA bill. Aadhaar Act was only for the purpose mentioned in the objects and using it for any other purpose would be invalid.
  • Chandrachud, J: The moment you extend Aadhaar to private entities, the money bill aspect will be gone.
  • Arvind Datar: Yes. The Act was passed as a money bill without any regard to the recommendations of Rajya Sabha. Had it not been a money bill, it would go to Rajya Sabha, recommendations would be considered, and Section 57 would not be there. An opt out clause would be there.
  • If one party is in dominating condition, it is not a free consent which is the case in this matter. To enroll or not to enroll is my choice. It is my decisional autonomy to part with or not to part with my personal information.
  • Today it is not possible for a person to survive without an Aadhaar. It has its intrusion from birth to death of an individual.
  • Aadhaar/PAN judgment should be revisited in light of the privacy judgment:
    • After Privacy judgment, it is the personal autonomy of the person whether she wants to take Aadhaar or not or even if she has aadhaar- whether she wants to link Aadhaar or not.
    • Attorney General, during the PAN case, had stated linking Aadhaar with PAN is the only foolproof method to ensure there are no fake PAN. (Tells about the case where a person entered 12 zeroes while filing income tax returns, his returns were accepted and refund processed.)
    • If your purpose is to eliminate fakes, it need not be perpetual. After achieving the purpose, my data should be returned. What is the need to keep it perpetually?
  • Mandatory Aadhaar for applying for NEET Exam:
    • In Gujarat, one cannot apply for NEET entrance exam without production of Aadhaar, last date being 9 March. Saya that it is a clear violation of the interim orders of the Court.
    • Attorney General KK Venugopal:  State has not authorised CBSE to make Aadhaar mandatory for entrance exams.
    • Bench: “Any such authority has the right to ask for some kind of identification but not exclusively Aadhaar. We will consider the relief for this particular case at the end of Mr. Chidambaram’s arguments.”

P. Chidambaram’s submissions on the issue of Money Bill:

  • Can one can bypass the scrutiny of Rajya Sabha by terming a bill as Money Bill?
  • A money bill cannot be introduced in Rajya Sabha. In this case, Rajya Sabha becomes only a recommending house. They have no legislative power but only recommendative power.
  • Money bill is a very special kind of bill. Therefore, in the light of denudation of the powers of Rajya Sabha and deprivation of powers of President, these provisions should be construed very narrowly and strictly so that nothing escapes in the guise of money bill.

Interim Order on Aadhaar being made mandatory for Entrance Exams:

The Bench passed an interim order on the CBSE NEET entrance exam and all other All-India examination that the applicants need not produce Aadhaar number for applying. They can produce any alternative means of identification including Ration card, driving licence, etc. The order will also be uploaded on the CBSE website.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium’s submissions, click herehere and here.

To read the highlights from Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s arguments, click here, here and here.

Looking for the detailed submissions of Senior Advocate Shyam Divan? Read the highlights from Day 1Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 , Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7 of the hearing.


Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While passing the interim order, the Division Bench held that there is no bar in law to Overseas Citizens of India cardholders, who are NEET UG 2017 qualified, to apply for management quota seats in the deemed Universities.

Petitioners claimed that they were eligible to be considered for admission under the management quota seats in the deemed Universities. The petitioners relied on the order of Karnataka HC passed in W.P. No. 23448/2017 dated 07.07.2017 and also the interim direction issued by the Supreme Court in W.P. No. 267/2017, dated 09.05.2017, regarding common counseling for admission to deemed Universities.

Learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that the Director General of Health Services was not permitting the petitioners to apply for management quota seats available in deemed Universities. Medical Council of India submitted that there is no bar in law for Overseas Citizens of India cardholders who are NEET UG 2017 qualified, to apply for available management quota seats.

The Court, after perusing the documents and submissions on behalf of the parties, held that the petitioners and similarly situated Overseas Citizens of India cardholders, who are NEET UG 2017 qualified, are eligible to apply for admission to I year MBBS/BDS course under the management quota seats in deemed Universities. [Aparna Macharla v. Union of India, W.P. Nos. 32330-32332/2017, dated August 01, 2017]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Staying the order of the MAdras High Court that stayed the declaration of results of NEET examination for admission in MBBS and BDS courses, the Court asked the CBSE to declare the result by June 26, 2017. The Court directed the authorities concerned to proceed with the process of declaration of results, subsequent counselling and admission as per the schedule fixed by it earlier.

The bench of P.C. Pant and Deepak Gupta, JJ also asked all the High Courts to refrain from entertaining any petition in matters relating to NEET examination 2017 that was conducted on 07.05.2017, as it affects the schedule of the examination.

The cancellation of the exam  and conduct of re-exam was sought due to alleged question paper leak. Madras High Court had, hence, on 24.05.2017, granted stay on the declaration of the result. The CBSE approached the Supreme Court for urgent hearing of the matter praying that it should be allowed to declare the result as the entire schedule of counselling and subsequent admission for medical courses through NEET has gone haywire.

Source: PTI

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court refused urgent hearing of the plea seeking cancellation of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) which was conducted on 07.05.2017. The Court said that since the matter was already being heard by the Madras High Court that has also ordered a stay on the publication of the result till 07.06.2017, there was no need to hear the matter urgently. The Court, however, asked the petitioner, an NGO named Sankalp, to mention the plea next week. The petitioner had sought for cancellation of the exam held on 07.05.2017 and conduct of re-exam due to alleged question paper leak.

Source: ANI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition seeking quashing of admission notice issued by CBSE dated 31.1.2017 that stipulates the maximum age of 25 years as eligible candidates to undergo the NEET examination, the bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ said that, prima facie, such an age limit could not have been determined by way of a notice on the basis of the instructions issued by the Medical Council of India and that it is appropriate to direct that all the desirous candidates will be allowed to fill up the forms on the online portal of the CBSE on or before 5.4.2017.

It was contended by the petitioners that in the absence of Regulations framed by the Medical Council of India with regard to the age limit, by issuance of a notice, the age limit could not have been determined and that there are students who, after graduation, are also desirous of taking NEET examination to become doctors.

Directing that the online portal shall be opened from today evening, the Court said that if the competent authority of the CBSE seeks any logistic support from the agencies for having additional centres in the District, the Collector of the concerned District or the Commissioner of the City whoever is the authority will extend all the support so that the forms are accepted and the examinations are held on the date fixed by making different centres available.

The Court further clarified that if any High Court has passed any order contrary to the present order, the CBSE shall be bound by the order passed by this Court as far as the cut-off date is concerned. However, no High Court in the country shall interfere with regard to any litigation pertaining to choosing/allocation of centres.

The matter will be taken up in the second week of July, 2017 for final hearing. [Rai Sabyasachi v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 303, order dated 31.03.2017]


Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Setting aside the admission of the petitioner to the Christian Medical College in the State of Chhattisgarh, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and P.C. Pant, JJ said that the Court cannot go against the orders passed by this Court from time to time only for the benefit of the students.

The petitioner and some other students had obtained admission to the medical college after clearing the CGMAT-2016. However, on 21.12.2010 a gazette notification was issued by the Medical Council of India amending the “Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997” to the effect, inter alia, that admissions to the MBBS course shall be based solely on marks obtained in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test.

The petitioner had contended that he had already been granted admission by the College after the examination CGMAT-2016 was conducted by the College and supervised and monitored by the State of Chhattisgarh and in which there were no allegations of impropriety, his admission should not be disturbed. Rejecting the said contention, the Court said that the question is not of any impropriety in the conduct of the examination but the question is really one of adhering to a particular discipline laid down by the Medical Council of India and approved by this Court. The Court said the plight of the petitioner is unfortunate but it cannot be helped.

Considering the fact that some similarly placed students participated in NEET and qualified in the examination, the Court said that those students who did not participate in NEET and placed their trust only in the College and the State of Chhattisgarh took a gamble and that gamble have unfortunately not succeeded. [Rishabh Choudhary v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 53, decided on 23.01.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme CourtUniversities and Educational Institutions

Supreme Court: In a Writ Petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India praying for a declaration that the third Proviso to Regulation 9(2) of the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, is unconstitutional and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, the 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, CJI and A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ held that the procedure evolved in Regulation 9 in general and the proviso to Clause (IV) in particular is just, proper and reasonable and also fulfill the test of Article 14 of the Constitution, being in larger public interest.

The writ petitioners, who claimed to be members of the Provincial Medical Health Services in the State of Uttar Pradesh, had contended that they should also be considered for admission in Post Graduate Degree Courses against 30% quota for in-service candidates. However, the 30% quota was reserved only for the in-service candidates who had worked in remote and difficult areas; and not for the in-service Medical Officers generally. It was the case of the petitioners that there is neither any committee set up nor guidelines made as to which area can be notified as remote and difficult area and that the power vested in the State is an un-canalized power and disregards the settled position that for consideration after the graduate level, merit should be the sole criteria.

Considering the fact that not even one instance has been brought forward to show that some areas which are not remote or difficult areas has been so notified, the Court rejected the said contention and held that the mere hypothesis that the State Government may take an improper decision whilst notifying the area as remote and difficult, cannot be the basis to hold that Regulation 9 and in particular proviso to Clause IV is unreasonable.

It was noticed that the State Governments across the country are not in a position to provide health care facilities in remote and difficult areas in the State for want of Doctors. The provision in the form of granting weightage of marks, therefore, was to give incentive to the in-service candidates and to attract more graduates to join as Medical Officers in the State Health Care Sector as in order to determine the academic merit of candidates, merely securing high marks in the NEET is not enough. The academic merit of the candidate must also reckon the services rendered for the common or public good. It was further stated that having served in rural and difficult areas of the State for one year or above, the incumbent having sacrificed his career by rendering services for providing health care facilities in rural areas, deserve incentive marks to be reckoned for determining merit. [State of U.P. v. Dr. Dinesh Singh Chauhan, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 820, decided on 16.08.2016]

OP. ED.Universities and Educational Institutions

Recently, the Supreme Court rendered an important verdict with massive implications for the writ petition filed by the Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India against the decision passed in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[1] which disallowed States to conduct their own entrance exams and providing relief to plethora of underprivileged students ordered NEET as the criterion for admissions.

The Government introduced “one country, one test” format for all the aspiring medical students of the country which will be known as National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET). NEET was initially scheduled to take place in 2012 but due to oppositions from various States it was put to hold.

Issue before the court

Whether the decision of the Supreme Court to scrap NEET in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[2] correct or is against Section 33 read with Section 19?A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Section 20 of the Dentists Act, 1948 which empowers Medical and Dental Council of India to regulate standards of education by issuing notifications. The real to be determined is “how far is NEET neat”.


In the recent judgment passed by the Supreme Court on 28-4-2016, the court speaking through A.R. Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and Adarsh K. Goel, JJ. held that NEET should be held and notwithstanding any order passed by any court earlier with regard to not holding NEET, this order shall operate. It was further held that the judgment passed in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[3], “that it would not be proper to hold NEET” is no more valid and should not affect pending matters.


The overall seats in MBBS are 49,990 out of which 25,330 belong to government medical colleges and 24,660 to private medical colleges[4]. Earlier State Government selected students through All India Pre-Medical Test (Aipmt) or CET which is now replaced by NEET with no major controversy. Problem arises for 24,660 seats which are reserved for private medical colleges. NEET does not alter the number of seats offered by private medical colleges and minority institutions. Instead it provides a ranking which the private medical colleges will have to adhere while selecting students.

In 2014, various writ petitions were filed against the two notifications of Medical Council of India, one amending Medical Council of India Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997 and other amending MCI Postgraduate Educational Regulations, 2000 and two notifications of Dental Council of India which introduced an all India common entrance examination for medical, dental and postgraduate courses to be conducted across the country challenging the constitutional and the statutory validity.[5]

First, the contention of Christian Medical College, Vellore in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[6] was that NEET violates fundamental right as unaided minority has its own procedure and method of admission for selection of students, and its purpose is nationalisation which will in turn deprive the underprivileged. Christian Medical College, Vellore alleged that MCI and DCI have power to only make recommendations and not conduct the examination themselves. Christian Medical College, Vellore cited the case TMA Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka[7] where it was clearly held that except for providing minimum qualification and eligibility, the admission cannot be regulated by State.

On the contrary, it was submitted by the respondent that the purpose of NEET was to introduce uniformity of standards and lessen the hardship of students to write multiple entrance examinations. It was also submitted that regulations of Section 33 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 were framed to apply to both majority and minority institutions. Right of minority is not denied as the institutes can chose successful minority who have secured minimum marks from the list of NEET.

This could be called the winning contention on part of the respondent as a very strong claim of petitioner falls to ground. The private medical colleges retain the option of offering seats to students of their community on the basis of merit list provided by NEET. Therefore, as long as admission process qualifies the “triple test” laid in P.A. Inamdar[8] i.e. fair, transparent and non?exploitative, it would be unjust to interfere in admission process of an institution. However, in the recent times, education has been made a profiteering business rather than a medium of imparting knowledge. Today, medical institutions are indulging in gross malpractices of charging huge amount of capitation fee, donations, etc. in garb of autonomy. In Modern Dental College and Research Centre v. State of M.P.[9] the stand of private medical colleges that conducting of entrance test by State violated the autonomy of colleges had been rejected.

In Kerala Education Bill, 1957, In re[10], it was observed that admission to educational institutions is an indispensible part of right of an educational institution which cannot be regulated except to lay down standards for maintaining excellence of education. In the case of aided institutions, the State may direct certain number of students to be admitted other than the method adopted by the institution. However, in unaided minority, right to admit students cannot be interfered with. The Court in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[11] differed with the decision passed in Kerala Education Bill case[12] and held that for unaided minority, a certain number of students from other communities should also be admitted to maintain a secular character and described it as “sprinkling effect”.

Second, it was contended by Christian Medical College, Vellore that students from different State Boards take this examination and they are alien to the pattern followed by CBSE, so NEET would be violation of Article 14.

Yet again, there is not enough weight in this contention as NEET will be conducted to test the knowledge of physics, biology and chemistry and irrespective of the syllabus, the human heart can be taught only in one manner.

Third, Christian Medical College, Vellore contended that as Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Dentists Act, 1948 framed under Schedule VII List I Entry 66, its notifications were delegated legislation so they don’t have power to override legislations of various States under Schedule VII List III Entries 25 and 26.

The respondent submitted that the “standard” in Schedule VII List I Entry 66 was to be given wider interpretation and the rights granted in Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution are limited to religion and available to individuals and not bodies like Christian Medical College, Vellore.

In Preeti Srivastava v. State of M.P.[13] the court held that the standard of education in an institution depends upon the caliber of students who are to be admitted. It was also held that NEET can be conducted under the supervision of MCI as per Section 33 of the Act. Thus, according to Schedule VII List III Entry 25, both the Union and States have power to legislate on matter of medical education subject to provisions of Schedule VII List I Entry 66 which are related to the determination of standards in higher education. It was further added that by virtue of Schedule VII List I Entry 66 the Union can make laws relating to determination of standards in institution for higher education.

The court speaking through Altamas Kabir, C.J., in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[14] held:

Although Article 19(6) permits reasonable restriction on Article 19(1)(g), act of Medical Council of India would not qualify as reasonable restriction but is interference and therefore, the four acts are ultra vires Articles 19(1)(g), 25, 26(a), 29(1) and 30(1).

However, a three-Judge Bench considering similar petitions in Veterinary Council of India v. Indian Council of Agricultural Research[15] held Common All India Entrance Examination as valid. It was also held that Article 19(6) permits reasonable restriction on Article 19(1)(g)  and therefore Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Dentists Act, 1948 cannot be said to be violative of Article 19(1)(g). Constitution-framers were conscious of the fact that not anybody can be given right to practise any profession without competency and capacity.

In the aftermath of decision passed by Supreme Court in Christian Medical College v. Union of India[16], a petition was filed by Medical Council of India wherein the 5-Judge Bench agreed to hear petition[17] and held that “decision of Christian Medical College[18] needs reconsideration”.

Later, in Sankalp Charitable Trust v. Union of India[19] NEET was held to be valid and operative. There should be a standard to recruit doctors who are well versed in medicine and to achieve this objective Medical Council of India has come up with NEET which will regulate the admission process in three stages:

         (i)   Only students who have right aptitude will be admitted to medical colleges across the country.

        (ii)   Hospitals should be sufficiently equipped with adequate number of patients so that doctors can carry on their practical training properly.

       (iii)   The examination which the students will take should be strictly regulated so as to get admission.

If the institution wants an excellent output then it should look towards recruiting capable and competent students who will later become skilled professional doctors. This is the reason as to why NEET is crucial.

The Court had further ordered to conduct All India Pre-Medical Test (Aipmt) as the first phase of NEET on May 1 and NEET II i.e. the second phase on July 24. Sorting the much debated issue over conducting NEET in two phases, the Supreme Court on 28-4-2016 held that all eligible candidates who could not appear for NEET I or those who have apprehension that they were not well prepared can sit for NEET II provided they give a written undertaking that they agree to give up their candidature in NEET I.

NEET was welcomed by many States as a move to bring transparency and reduce malpractices in several medical and dental colleges of the country. However, it was pointed out by Health Ministers of different States in a meeting headed by the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, J.P. Nadda, that, NEET should be conducted from next year so that students get time to prepare accordingly as there are also issues relating to syllabus which is followed by different State Boards. It was also pointed out that NEET should be allowed in regional languages in addition to English and Hindi.

Differing from the opinion of various Health Ministers, the time given by the Supreme Court to students for preparation cannot be said to be too short as the students who aspire to clear CET or Aipmt already keep preparing for one to two years and NEET is not based upon a different syllabus. It is only for the benefit of underprivileged students so that they get an equal and fair opportunity at medical education. Also, in 2013, a vernacular NEET was conducted and not even a single vernacular language candidate could get admission.[20] According to Medical Council of India Regulations, only those students who have passed 12th standard English paper are eligible to join medical colleges.[21] Therefore, the argument that NEET should be conducted in regional languages other than English and Hindi is absurd and baseless.

The President has promulgated two ordinances to amend the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and the Dentists Act, 1948 and thereby institutionalised NEET and made it applicable for the academic year 2016?2017. The amended ordinances shall not however affect admissions to State Government seats for the academic year 2016-2017.

The Ordinance will allow the State Government to hold their respective entrance tests for 2016-2017. It is also made clear that the private medical colleges and deemed universities have to shortlist students through NEET and they cannot conduct their separate entrance examination.

*Fourth year student, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, National Law University, Lucknow.

[1]   (2013) 14 SCC 539.

[2]   (2013) 14 SCC 539.

[3]   (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[4]< 20100%20Admissions.pdf> accessed 22-5-2016.

[5]   (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[6]   (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[7]   (2002) 8 SCC 481.

[8]   (2005) 6 SCC 537.

[9]   (2009) 7 SCC 751.

[10]  AIR 1958 SC 956.

[11]  (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[12]  AIR 1958 SC 956.

[13]  (1999) 7 SCC 120.

[14]  (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[15]  (2000) 1 SCC 750.

[16]  (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[17]  Medical Council of India v. Christian Medical College, (2016) 4 SCC 342.

[18]  (2014) 2 SCC 305.

[19]  2016 SCC OnLine SC 366.

[20]  Devi Shetty, The NEET Solution: By endorsing NEET, Supreme Court comes to the aid of aspiring medical students (The Times of India, 19-5-2016) <> accessed 20-5-2016.

[21] 20100%20Admissions.pdf> accessed 22-5-2016.

Hot Off The PressNews

The Central Government on Friday approved an 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. This will bypass the Supreme Court’s decision to hold the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), a common test for admission to medical and dental courses. The Ordinance is now sent for approval of President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, for it to come into effect.

The Ordinance will permit the State Government to conduct their own entrance test this year. It was also made clear that private medical colleges and deemed universities cannot conduct their own entrance exams and have to select students through NEET.

The Supreme Court on April 28, allowed NEET to be held in two phases. The first phase of NEET,  All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT), was held on May 1. Students were given an opportunity to appear for NEET-2 on July 24 in case they had not applied for NEET-1. It was further ruled that NEET will be conducted in by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in two languages.

To Read Supreme Court’s ruling, click here

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of A.R. Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and A.K. Goel, JJ cleared the air over the much debated topic as to the hardship to the students who have either applied for NEET-I but could not appear or who appeared but could not prepare fully thinking that the preparation was to be only for 15% All India seats and there will be further opportunity to appear in other examinations. The Court said that all such eligible candidates who could not appear in NEET-I and those who had appeared but have apprehension that they had not prepared well, can be permitted to appear in NEET-II, subject to seeking an option from the said candidates to give up their candidature for NEET-I. The Court also said that the date of the NEET-II can be rescheduled, if necessary.

Regarding the State Government’s power to legislate on matters relating to admission, the Court referred to the Constitution Bench’s judgment dated 02.05.2016, where it was held that the admission involved two aspects. 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.

The Court further said that the Oversight Committee appointed by this Court vide the aforementioned judgment dated 02.05.2016 shall also oversee the NEET-II examination to be conducted by the CBSE. [MEDICAL & DENTAL COLLEGE v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 480, decided on 09.05.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Clearing the confusion over holding the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in pursuance of Notifications dated 21.12.2010 issued by the Medical Council of India and the Dental Council of India, the Court held that NEET should be held and notwithstanding any order passed by any Court earlier with regard to not holding NEET, this order shall operate.

It was contended that in view of the judgment passed in Christian Medical College, Vellore Vs. Union of India, (2014) 2 SCC 305, it would not be proper to hold NEET and this order should not affect pending matters. The 3 judge bench of A.R. Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and Adarsh K. Goel, JJ rejected the said contention and said that the said judgment has already been recalled in Medical Council of India v. Christian Medical College, Vellore, (2016) 4 SCC 342 and therefore, the Notifications dated 21.12.2010 are in operation as on today. [Sankalp Charitable Trust v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 366decided on 28.04.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Court allowed the petition filed by Centre & Medical Council of India (MCI) seeking review of its judgement scrapping the single common entrance test for medical courses. NEET is conducted for admission in MBBS, BDS and postgraduate courses in all medical colleges. The 3-judge bench headed by the then CJI Altamas Kabir along with A.R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen, JJ had scrapped the common entrance test in Christian Medical College, Vellore v. Union of India, (2013) 14 SCC 539. On 21st January, 2016, it was ordered that the review petition be heard by a 5-judge bench which led to the constitution of a bench comprising of A.R. Dave, Dr. A.K. Sikri, R.K. Agrawal, Adarsh K. Goel and R. Banumathi.
The Court was of the opinion that the aforesaid judgment needed reconsideration as the majority view had not taken into consideration some binding precedents and more particularly, there was no discussion among the members of the Bench before pronouncement of the judgment. [Medical Council of India v. Christian Medical College Vellore, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 305, decided on 11.04.2016]