SC asks private colleges to fall in line with NEET

New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Friday categorically said that private colleges, deemed universities and associations will not be allowed to hold their own undergraduate medical and dental entrance exams and will have to strictly comply with National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) 2016-17.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh submitted that private colleges should not be allowed to conduct their own exams and fall in line with NEET. File photo for representational purpose only.

The oral declaration from the Bench led by Justice Anil R. Dave triggered an uproar from lawyers representing numerous private medical colleges. They protested that this was a violation of their constitutional right to establish and administer their own institutions.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan even went ahead to say that if private medical colleges are compelled to adopt NEET, they will have no option but withdraw the 50 per cent reservation of seats annually provided to students, mainly from poor backgrounds, from the State rank lists.

The Bench, also comprising Justices Shiva Kirti Singh and A.K. Goel, agreed to give the Centre time till May 9, the next date of hearing, to hold discussions with States on exempting them from NEET and allowing them to conduct separate entrance exams for admissions to State government colleges.

Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said that the Central health officials are meeting with their counterparts in several States this weekend to iron out several issues linked to having NEET and State exams side by side.

Again, the Centre said it would by May 10 respond to a query by the court on whether students who appeared for NEET-1 on May 1 should be given a second chance in the second phase on July 24.

“Give us some time. We are having meetings in the next two days with the States. They want to resolve this issue,” Mr. Kumar submitted.

At the very start of the hearing, Medical Council of India submitted that State governments should be permitted to hold entrance exams to State government colleges in this academic session.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, for the Council, submitted that private colleges should not be allowed to conduct their own exams and fall in line with NEET.

“Prima facie we are also with the MCI stand that private colleges cannot hold exams on their own,” Justice Dave later observed when objections from private institutions reached a crescendo.

“We have already said this. One: There shall be NEET. Two: No private colleges or associations will be permitted to have their own exams. Three: States will be allowed to conduct their exams after we consider what the Solicitor-General has to say on it on Monday,” Justice Dave said categorically at the end of the half-hour hearing.