SC allows minority colleges to conduct own entrance test for MBBS/MD

The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed private minority institutions, both religious and linguistic, to hold their own entrance tests for undergraduate and postgraduate medical courses but declined to stay the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for the academic year 2013-14.

A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices S S Nijjar and J Chelameswar in an interim order allowed 76 minority medical colleges, who were seeking exemption from NEET, to conduct their own tests to fill MBBS and MD seats.

Senior advocates K K Venugopal, K Parasaran, Harish Salve, Rajeev Dhawan and P P Rao pointed out that since NEET was to take place from the next academic session, the court would serve public interest by staying it for a year.

However, Medical Council of India counsel, senior advocate Nidesh Gupta, pointed out that many private and government colleges have already opted for NEET to select candidates and a stay on it would not serve public interest. But it was also pointed out that in some states, the high courts had stayed NEET, allowing state-based medical colleges to have their own entrance tests.

The court, however, declined to stay NEET while allowing private minority institutions to conduct their own tests and posted the petitions for final hearing on January 14. It said the fate of the individual tests would be subject to the final outcome in court.

The petitioner colleges had claimed exemption from NEET on the ground that they, being either religious or linguistic minority colleges, were entitled to autonomy in administration of their educational institutions under Article 30 of the Constitution.

In the lead case relating to Christian Medical College, Vellore, the court had on October 10 allowed the institution to receive applications for its own entrance examination to fill MBBS seats. But after hearing Medical Council of India counsel Nidesh Gupta, the court had put a caveat saying this "will not entitle the respondent institution to claim any equity on the basis thereof".

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