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SC scraps KEA 10-year rule for med admissions
From Our Correspondent
On April 4 the Supreme Court declared as invalid the Karnataka government notification necessitating 10-year study in the state as a precondition for admission to postgraduate medical/dental college government quota seats.

A bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice U U Lalit ordered the Karnataka government and Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) to "suitably modify and amend" the Information Bulletin of March 10 and republish the calendar of events for the admission process for NEET-PG 2018.

According to Clause 4 of the Information Bulletin jointly issued by Karnataka's Directorate of Medical Education, and Karnataka Examination Authority the eligibility criteria, among others, for government quota seats included Karnataka domicile and either of their parents must have resided or studied in the state for a minimum of 10 years.

The court allowed the writ petition filed by Dr Kriti Lakhina and 43 other candidates, who belonged to other states but had completed their MBBS and BDS courses from Karnataka's medical colleges after securing their admission on the basis of all-India quota. They contended that the condition of domicile for admission to MD, MS and postgraduate Diploma seats in Karnataka was invalid and unconstitutional.

Delivering the judgement the bench relied heavily on two cases -- the Pradeep Jain case and Vishal Goyal and Others vs State of Karnataka and others. The court said that "the State of Karnataka in its written submissions sought to justify the action but did not explain how the decision in Vishal Goyal would not be applicable in the present case."

Opposing the contention, the Medical Council of India (MCI) pointed out that the Karnataka government had brought a similar Information Bulletin in 2014 with identical eligibility criteria, which the Supreme Court had set aside in the case of 'Vishal Goyal' saying preference based on domicile would be violative of the principle of equality.

The court had then agreed that the Information Bulletin for PGET-2014 did not actually give institutional preference to students who had passed MBBS/BDS from colleges or universities in Karnataka but made some of them ineligible to take the entrance test. It had then held the said clause as ultra vires of Article 14 (equality) of the Constitution and declared the conditions as null and void.

Earlier on March 27 the Supreme Court had specifically told Karnataka government to stop taking any step on its Karnataka Examination Authority notification dated March 10.

Haryana tightens grip on pvt varsities
By Our Correspondent
: On June 19, last year the Haryana government decided that all private universities would make admissions to their technical courses through Centralised entrance examinations conducted by the Haryana State Technical Counselling Society.

Similarly all admissions to professional courses in medical and allied faculties in private universities would be done Centrally by the Medical Education and Research Department, a
spokesman for the Higher Education Department said.

According to the provisions in the Haryana Private Universities Act, 2006 admissions to professional and technical courses in a private university should be made through an entrance test conducted at the state-level either by an association of the universities conducting similar courses or by an agency of the state. However, the private universities have been flouting the statutory provisions of the Act.

The spokesman said that some private universities were offering professional courses in agriculture science for which Ch. Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU), Hisar, would conduct a centralised admission test.

In addition to medical, technical and agricultural courses, private universities also offer B.Ed, Law and other professional courses. Also, the private universities would make B.Ed admissions through centralized counselling to be conducted by the state university authorized by the government.

Similarly, all admissions to law courses would be made on the basis of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) merit.

However, private universities could conduct their own entrance examination for admission to courses out of ambit of technical, medical education, agriculture, B.Ed and law for this year only.

From the next year, all private universities would form an association of universities for conducting Centralized entrance examination for such professional courses.

The spokesman said the Vice-Chancellors of all private universities had been asked to adhere to these instructions strictly and send seat matrix in all courses of their institutions by June 25 .

They had also been asked to contact the Director-General, Technical Education; Director, Medical Education and Research; Director, Agriculture and Vice Chancellor of CCSHAU, Hisar, for the centralized admission process.



National Testing Agency to hold JEE, NEET : govt

By Rajiv Shukla
Indications are that the National Testing Agency (NTA) will come into operation soon and would initially hold "those entrance examinations," which are currently being conducted by the CBSE, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar told the Lok Sabha on March 26.

This, he said, will relieve the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) from the burden of holding multiple tests every year.

"The NTA will conduct the first set of examinations from 2019 onward," the minister said in a written reply to a question.

Although the Cabinet had given its formal approval to NTA in October last year there was no specific reaction from the government about the proposed NTA despite repeated requests and reminders from the CBSE.

The CBSE, which holds about nine entrance and recruitment tests, including the Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE) for admission to undergraduate engineering programmes, and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to undergraduate medical courses, has been requesting the HRD ministry to relieve it from the burden of conducting multiple tests since 2015.

"The government has decided to set up a National Testing Agency as a society registered under the Indian societies registration Act, 1860, as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organisation to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions in the country," Javadekar told the House in his written reply.

He said the NTA will initially conducted the exams currently being conducted by the CBSE, such as JEE and NEET, and will subsequently take over more and more responsibilities.

"It will conduct the examination in the online mode twice a year in order to give adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best and develop standard operating procedure (SOPs) for handling any glitches that may arise in the course of conducting online examinations," the minister added.

A proposal for the establishment of an agency to conduct all entrance examinations and recruitment tests for various central government departments was first mooted by the HRD ministry in 2013, during the second term of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.


Presenting the general budget for 2017-18 in Parliament in February, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced setting up of the NTA as “an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization” to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions.

“This would free the CBSE , AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) and other premier institutions from these administrative responsibilities (holding entrance tests) so that they can focus more on academics,” he had said.

In course of the finalisation of the proposal in consultation with the ‘stakeholders,’ however, a view emerged that the proposed NTA should initially conduct only those competitive examinations which are being held by the CBSE.

More than 4 million students appear for seven tests — CAT, JEE (Main), JEE (Advanced), GATE, CMAT, NEET, NET — conducted by the CBSE, IITs, IIMs and AICTE every year.

The proposal for a National Testing Agency was first mooted as the additional agenda item for discussion at the 61st meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) held on 2nd April 2013 at 11.00 AM. The meeting noted the proposal and desired that the proposal be taken forward in consultation with all stakeholders. Since then the proposal has seen many ups and downs till February 2017 when it was formally included in the Finance Minister's budget speech.

SC damns govt for NEET order but refuses to stay

By Sanjiv Dube
On July 14 the three judge Supreme Court bench hearing the
National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) case criticised the NEET ordinance calling it "disturbing, unwarranted and not proper" but refused to stay it in the interest of the students.

The bench, comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, Justice A R Dave and Justice Adarsh K Goel said that staying the ordinance at this stage would trigger chaos as lakhs of students across 17 States have already written exams in their respective States.

The ordinance, called the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance 2016 issued by the government on May 24, 2016 allowed States to conduct their own common entrance exams for admission to MBBS and BDS seats in government colleges despite the Supreme Court order on May 9, 2016 that only NEET would prevail.

"Prime facie, we found that the validity of the ordinance is in doubt. Since 50% of the states (17) had already held their examinations, we do not grant any relief," the bench said.

The court said it favoured a single common entrance test for all medical colleges in order to bring uniformity in the examination in the interest of students and for maintaining a minimum standard.

In a strong comment on medical colleges admitting students after taking money, Justice Dave said, "What to talk about the middle class. It is even impossible for upper middle class candidates to get admission in medical colleges. Think of it..if you and I have to be treated by a doctor who paid Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore for admission."

NGO Sankalp Charitable Trust and Anand Rai, who claimed to be Madhya Pradesh's Vyapam scam whistleblower, sought a stay on the May 24 ordinance that allowed states to conduct their own exams for academic session 2016-17.

Opposing the prayer Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the NEET was mooted in the Medical Council of India regulations as part of the subordinate legislation and the government had power to regulate it. Countering petitioner's plea, he said it would affect lakhs of students, if the ordinance was stayed.

May 9 order was passed despite objections from several States and private medical colleges that they have their own exams and many are underway or about to begin. The court simply had asked then to fall in line.

Expressing its displeasure the bench said : “Your move to bring this ordinance despite our order was not proper. It was unwarranted. It should not have happened. When the court said ‘no’ to State exams, you disregard us and issued an ordinance for State exams... Did you not think about the confusion it would cause to the children? After all these are our children,” Justice Dave told Attorney-General.

Mr. Rohatgi said that the ordinance was not meant as an affront to the Supreme Court’s authority. He said the ordinance merely opened an “option” for States to either opt for NEET or conduct their exams exclusively for State seats for the current academic year.

NEET is back, SC bench scraps earlier judgement

By Rajiv Shukla
In a landmark move the Supreme Court of India on April 11 recalled its one of the most controversial judgements -- NEET case judgement -- and ordered that "the case be heard afresh".

The case, called National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) case was delivered on July 18, 2013 by the Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir a dayAltamash Kabir before he was to retire, giving ample relief to private medical colleges. Some  private medical colleges had challenged the Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India regulations on admissions to medical and dental college -- and the relief allowed them to have their way in the matter of admissions.

With the recall of the judgement status quo ante has been restored and the MCI has been told to organise a combined all-India admission test for private and government medical colleges.

However, the MCI vice-chairman Dr C V Bhirmanandham has expressed his inability to hold the all-India test this year because of paucity of time and this may allow the private players to have their way this year as well.

Hearing the review petitions on April 11 the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice A R Dave and comprising Justices A K Sikri, R K Agrawal, A K Goel and R Banumathi recalled the judgment dated July 18, 2013 which had quashed NEET. It said the “majority verdict“ delivered by then Chief Justice Altamas Kabir did not consider an earlier SC judgment that was binding on the bench, nor had he consulted other members of his bench.

Incidentally Justice A R Dave, who headed the 5-judge Constitution bench that recalled the earlier order had given a dissenting verdict in the NEET case. In his April 11 order he specified that he was not consulted by the then CJI Altamas Kabir.

The April 11 order comes just a month before separate entrance tests are to be held for government and private medical colleges, putting lakhs of students in confusion. There are over 400 medical colleges in the country and lakhs of students sit for admission tests for over 52,000 MBBS seats. Since 2013, state governments and private colleges have conducted separate examinations for these.

Monday's order leaves Medical Council of India with the onerous task of conducting the NEET at a short notice as students have already filled in forms for several entrance tests.

Immediately after judgment reviving the NEET was pronounced in open court, stunned lawyers appearing for private colleges, pleaded that the SC clarify the consequences. The bench replied that “natural consequence“ was that NEET comes into force. It said the court would give a fresh hearing on constitutional validity of NEET but in the meantime, the exam will be restored. The lawyers then pleaded that the MCI's notification to bring NEET back be stayed till its validity was decided afresh and said that in 2013, too, an interim stay was given. The bench, however, rejected the plea saying the interim order was only for one academic session and it could not continue.

“After giving our thoughtful and due consideration, we are of the view that the judgment delivered in Christian Medical College needs reconsideration,“ the bench said.

Recalling earlier order the Constitution bench allowed review petitions by the Union government and the Medical Council of India (MCI) against the July 18, 2013, verdict and restored the NEET 2011 notification.

“The NEET regulations are restored and MCI can conduct the examinations pending the fresh judgement,” the order said.

According to the 2011 notification, the CBSE was to conduct the tests for admission to MBBS and BDS courses and the National Board of Examination for the PG programmes.

The 2013 verdict

The 2013 verdict had created a buzz in the apex court corridors as an advocate had posted the outcome on a social networking site in advance. However, Justice Kabir had reportedly said he was not aware of the leak of the judgment.

While Justice Vikramjit Sen (since retired) had shared the views and findings of Justice Kabir against the NEET, Justice Dave had in his dissenting verdict said that the three judges "had no discussion on the subject due to paucity of time". Justice Dave had stressed that this was not the normal practice.

Justice Dave had written in 2013 that “one of the main considerations of having one common entrance test conducted by the Medical Council of India is to check the malaise of money-making business in the admission process by selling their seats for crores, which has been going on for the last so many years in private colleges.”

The Christian Medical College, Vellore; the States of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; several associations of private medical colleges; DD Medical College and DD Hospital, Tamil Nadu; and various private medical colleges had filed petitions in High Courts and obtained an interim stay on the applicability of the NEET on them. On the MCI’s petitions, these cases were transferred to the Supreme Court.


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