'Neet is ill-devised and unconstitutional'
Guest aricle by Rajeev Dhavan, senior advocate, representing aided and unaided minority institutions in the ongoing Neet case in the Supreme Court.
Holding national examinations is the right of minority institutions as was decided by an 11-judge bench of the Supreme Court in the Pai Foundation case of 2002 (TMA Pai Foundation and Ors versus State of Karnataka and Ors). Even the Inamdar case of 2005 (PA Inamdar and Ors. versus State of Maharashtra and Ors) decided that the decision for selection of students in minority institutions should be taken by the institution itself and not by the government.
Having a test devised by someone else is unconstitutional. Education in India cannot be carried out without the private sector, and private institutes' autonomy is protected by the TMA Pai case judgment of the Supreme Court and is part of the constitutional partnership. While there have been allegations about postgraduate medical seats being sold for lakhs and crores of rupees irrespective of students' academic performance, these claims are nothing, but government propaganda. Unaided institutions, which are usually in clusters, have wholly fair and transparent tests devised after the approval of an objective authority. A committee comprising a retired judge and other competent people is set up by colleges to determine their tests.
Committees set up under the Supreme Court rules ensure transparency in these tests. These examinations cannot be fiddled with. And if it is said that tests conducted by these institutions can be fiddled with, then even Neet can be fiddled with.
The Neet is an ill-devised test. It does not deal with percentage, but concerns a statistical entity called percentile. The percentile system means that only the first 50 students will be given preference in the admission. This method is wholly arbitrary.
The introduction of the percentile system to determine admissions to postgraduate medical colleges will lower and increase standards at will. The minority institutions running medical colleges want to raise the standard. The percentage method for admission should not be done away with.
Moreover, students have the constitutional right to choose the college they want to study in. With the conventional examination system, students will be able to apply in only those colleges where they want to study in. But with Neet that will not be possible. The Neet test is hugely defective. If this test is allowed to determine admissions, what we would have is a haphazard procedure that would make both students and medical institutions unhappy.