Supreme Court lifts embargo on medical entrance results

Describing thousands of medical education aspirants as victims of policy decisions, the Supreme Court Monday came to their rescue and lifted its prohibition against their admission in undergraduate and post-graduate courses across the country. A bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir cleared the decks for their admissions, saying private and government colleges were at liberty to publish results of their entrance exams conducted for the academic year 2013-14. The stand-off between private medical colleges and the Medical Council of India (MCI) over the validity of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) had left thousands of students in the lurch after the dispute reached the apex court.

On December 13, the court allowed private and government colleges to go ahead with their respective entrance exams but restricted them from publishing results. This embargo worried students as they feared losing a year of their career due to the legal tangle over whether the MCI could take away the right of medical colleges to conduct their own exams. In its interim order, the bench, however, noted that "the students, who aspire to gain entry into the medical colleges at the MBBS and BDS and the PG levels have been caught in the legal tangle for no fault of theirs and are the victims of policy decisions". To safeguard their interests, the court added it was "just and equitable" to recall the restriction of the December 13 order and allow the results of the exams to be declared to help students this year. While PG entrance exams were conducted in November, UG exams were held earlier this month. The deadline for PG medical admissions is May 31.

The bench also took note of the fact that PG medical students render valuable assistance in the treatment of patients in hospitals. "Without fresh entrants into the PG courses, even for a year, the hospitals are likely to be adversely affected on account of lack of doctors to directly take care of the patients in the hospitals," it said and stressed that this would also be in the interest of the students. The court, however, adjourned its final verdict on the validity of the NEET questioned by various colleges in a batch of 115 petitions. While the colleges have argued that NEET interfered with their autonomy and right to admit students of their choice, the MCI has justified the centralised exam on the ground that it would avoid multiple entrance tests and minimise corruption and irregularities in admission to medical courses.

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