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SC firm on NEET, 2nd phase on July 24

5/4/2016

EW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday rebuffed the plea of private medical colleges that the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) violated their autonomy and fundamental right to run educational institutions and stuck to its stand that a single-window test was good for students.

A bench of Justices A R Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and A K Goel said forcing students to take multiple entrance exams across the country is an excessive burden on medical aspirants and they would have to spend thousands of rupees filling up forms.

Agreeing to hear the plea of state governments and private medical colleges opposing NEET in the current academic year, the bench said the second phase of NEET would be held on schedule and asked the Centre and CBSE to start preparations for the test to be held on July 24. Additional solicitor-general Pinky Anand told the bench that the first phase of NEET was conducted smoothly on May 1 and around 6.5 lakh aspirants took the exam. Taking note that court proceedings on NEET had created confusion among students and parents, the bench directed CBSE to advertise in newspapers to clarify the position on the common entrance test.

State governments and medical colleges told the court that preparations to conduct the test had been done and sought permission to go ahead. The court did not pass any order and said it will do so only after hearing all parties. As the court has not restrained them from holding exams, various tests can be held but their validity will hang in balance till the SC passes its order.

Several legal eagles appeared for the states and colleges opposing NEET. The court room was packed with lawyers raising their voice to be heard. The court said it would allow all parties but added that it'd decide the case as per law and wouldn't be pressured.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the association of private colleges of Karnataka, told the bench that the examination was to be conducted on May 8 across the country in which more than one lakh students would appear. He said it was not right to force NEET on colleges at that stage. His views were supported by the Tamil Nadu government which said students were admitted in medical colleges on the basis of their 10+2 marks and there was no examination culture in the state since 2007.

Senior advocate L Nageswara Rao, appearing for the Christian Medical College, Vellore, said that forcing NEET on minority unaided institutions would amount to interfering with their autonomy and fundamental right to manage their colleges.

The bench disagreed and said NEET was just a test and the minority institutions were free to admit students as per eligibility criteria fixed by them.

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