SC refuses separate NEET merit list for State syllabus students
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to pass an interim direction to the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to publish separate merit lists for CBSE students and their counterparts who studied under the State syllabus in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) held on July 24 for undergraduate medical and dental courses in private colleges all over the country.
However, a Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and S.K. Singh sought the Centre’s response on petitions filed by several medical and dental aspirants drawn largely from Tamil Nadu, including S. Rishesh, against the “discrimination” shown in the Centre’s new NEET ordinance which exempts government colleges and government-assigned seats in private medical colleges from NEET.
The new Amending Ordinance in the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, on the other hand, makes it mandatory for private colleges to provide admission only through NEET. The court issued notice also to the MCI and the CBSE in this regard.
But the Bench declined any immediate relief to the students, saying the problems regarding NEET were discussed threadbare in the Supreme Court, which had refused a stay.
“We had said that admissions would either be through NEET or not,” Justice Singh, who was part of the NEET Bench led by Justice Anil R. Dave, responded to arguments raised by senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Jayant Muthraj.
“We cannot dilute the ordinance. We will issue notice,” the court observed.
The petitions by the students, who largely hail from Tamil Nadu, pleaded with the court to issue an interim order that admission to private medical colleges this academic year would continue to be based on the system of awarding seats on the basis of Higher Secondary marks.
In the alternative, the petitioners sought the court to direct the MCI and the CBSE to provide a proportionate quota to students from Tamil Nadu, who have followed the State syllabus and attended the NEET, by publishing their results in a separate merit list for this year.
Question role for CBSE
The petitions also challenge the MCI’s move to appoint the CBSE to conduct the NEET by mainly following CBSE syllabus for preparing question papers without giving equal importance to the syllabi prescribed by different State Boards.
The petitions have questioned the validity of the new ordinance prescribing only English and Hindi a medium of language for conducting the uniform test thereby giving undue advantage to students from Hindi medium compared to students from regional languages.
This extends the “benefit of Ordinance only to a select group of students while denying the benefit to another set of students, although the said students constitute a class in themselves.”
“The syllabus of the CBSE and the method of teaching are totally different from the syllabus and the method of teaching in the State Board. Students studying in the Tamil Nadu State Board are not trained for objective type of entrance test,” the petition said.
“Normally, students aspiring for All India Medical Entrance Test start their preparation from Class 8. Since Tamil Nadu follows the final marks in Class 12 in the Tamil Nadu State Board as criteria for admission to medical colleges in Tamil Nadu, students aspiring for the State government seats, spent their entire time to prepare for the Board Exams only,” it said.