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Supreme Court rules for 1 medical test, in 2 phases this year


New Delhi: The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that admission to MBBS and BDS courses in the current session (2016-17) would be done only through the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET), scrapping dozens of tests that have already been conducted or were scheduled to be held in the coming weeks.
However, a bench of Justices A R Dave, Shiva Kirti Singh and A R Dave approved the proposal of the government, CBSE and the Medical council of India to treat the All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Entrance Test (AIPMT), scheduled for May 1, as Phase-I of NEET. Nearly 6.6 lakh candidates are to appear in AIPMT.
Students who have not applied for AIPMT would be given a fresh opportunity to appear in Phase -II of NEET to be held on July 24. Additional solicitor general Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre and CBSE, told the bench that both phases would be standardised and final results declared by August 17.
MCI also came in support for NEET but its counsel, senior advocate Vikas Singh and advocate Gaurav Sharma, told the bench that CBSE should be directed to expedite the process and declare the results early to ensure that the session starts from August 1.
But the bench accepted the schedule proposed by CBSE to conduct the two-phase exams and dismissed the plea of various state governments and private colleges which contended that NEET could not be imposed on them. Almost all top legal guns, appearing for various state governments and private colleges, opposed NEET but failed to impress the court not to implement the common entrance test for admission for the 2016-17 session.
"In view of the submissions made on behalf of the respondents (Centre, CBSE, MCI), we record that NEET shall be held as stated by them. We further clarify that notwithstanding any order passed by any court earlier with regard to not holding NEET, this order shall operate," the bench said and asked all colleges to accept NEET result as basis for admitting students.
The court passed the order on a PIL filed by NGO Sankalap Charitable Trust seeking direction to the Centre and CBSE to conduct NEET as single-window test for admission. Advocate Amit Kumar, appearing for the NGO, submitted that multiple tests for admission must be done away with as around 90 tests were being conducted across the country.
The bench said NEET would not be applicable for admission in PG courses as the exam has already been conducted and counselling process was on.
The court asked the government to give wide publicity across the country on NEET being enforced to ensure that students, who had not applied for AIPMT, get a chance to take Phase-II test. It directed the Centre, states and state police to extend all necessary support to CBSE and provide security measures for timely and fair conduct of NEET.
Lakhs of students appear for medical entrance examinations for admission to more than 400 colleges every year to compete for more than 52,000 MBBS seats. Since 2013, state governments and private colleges have been conducting separate examinations.
Thursday's decision is aimed at weeding out malpractices in admissions, such as capitation fees and discretionary criteria, used by private colleges to indulge in profiteering by circumventing a merit-based selection system for allotment of MBBS, BDS and PG seats.
NEET, which was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the apex court in 2013, was restored on April 11 after a five-judge Constitution bench recalled the earlier verdict and allowed the Centre and Medical Council of India(MCI) to implement the common entrance test till the court decides afresh on its validity.
The Constitution bench had said that the controversial judgement of July 2013 by which NEET was quashed needed reconsideration as the "majority verdict" delivered by the then CJI Altamas Kabir did not take into "consideration some binding precedents and more particularly, we find that there was no discussion among the members of the bench before pronouncement of the judgement".
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