SC: NEET applicable to private unaided minority colleges for admission

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday ruled that the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) will apply to private unaided minority colleges for admission of students to MBBS, MD, BDS and MDS courses.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justices Vineet Saran and M.R. Shah said that the application of NEET is to ensure fairness in selection, recognition of merit, and to safeguard the interests of the students. By and large, at present education is devoid of its real character of charity, as it has become a commodity, the bench said.

“It intends to weed out the evils from the system and remove the various malpractices which have decayed the system. The regulatory measures in no way interfere with the rights to administer the institution by religious or linguistic minorities,” said the court.

The bench observed that it is not reasonable to claim that minority institutions will have complete autonomy.

“Some checks may be necessary and will serve the academic needs of the institution. A correlative duty of good administration is attached to the right to administer educational institutions,” said the court.

“To weed out evils from the system, which were eating away fairness in the 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 the Directives Principles, Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution,” said the court.

The top court observed that NEET has been prescribed by the legislature in the larger public interest, which should prevail.

“The conditions are reasonable and cannot be said to be taking away any of the constitutional rights of minority institutions; they are reasonable, fair and intended to bring transparency in the professional education imparted by the institutions. They are applicable for all institutions alike and minorities are not placed on a disadvantageous platform,” said the court.

The court noted that there is no doubt on the concept of limited government and least interference is welcomed, but it needs balancing with the larger public and national interest.

“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. The maladies with which professional education suffers in this country are writ large,” said the court.

The bench emphasised that NEET does not violate the fundamental rights of the minority community to run educational institutions. 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,” said the court.

The court observed the institution cannot be allowed to fall below the standards of excellence under the guise of the exclusive right of the management. Minorities are as much part of the nation as the majority, and anything that impinges upon national interest must necessarily in its ultimate operation affect the interests of all.

The verdict came in the matter of Vellore-based Christian Medical College (CMC) and others seeking separate entrance tests other than NEET for taking admission.

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