Putting a stop to all speculations, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that NEET shall remain the only uniform entrance test for medical admissions in the country. It further held that minority institutions, deemed universities and all other private colleges must also abide with these regulations and that they cannot claim violation of their rights to admit students since NEET is in the larger national interest. The top court made it clear that the rights of minority organisations' would not be affected by the use of a common entrance test for prospective medical students.
"There is no violation of rights of minority institutions to come under NEET. At present, education is devoid of its real character of charity; it has become a commodity," a three-member bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and MR Shah said.
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"NEET was introduced to wipe out corruption and other evils in the system and it is in the national interest. There are still several loopholes in the admission process that need to be plugged," the court added.
Hitting out at "unscrupulous practices adopted by private colleges", who refused to admit students sponsored by a centralised counselling panel, the court stressed that all minority and private institutions must admit students based on NEET (National Eligibility/Entrance Test) scores.
"Regulatory measures in NEET in no way interfere with the rights of religious or linguistic institutions," the court ruled.
Minority institutions had challenged the admission process under NEET, arguing it affected the rights of minority unaided private professional institutions.
They also argued that minority institutions must be allowed to have a separate admission exam - over and above NEET.
The court rejected both views.
"It is not possible to prescribe further examination over and above NEET. That cannot be said to be workable. No exemption can be granted from NEET, considering the objective with which it has been introduced," the court ruled.
However, the court also cautioned that much more needed to be done to identify and curtail "unscrupulous practices".
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"To weed out evils from the system, which were eating away fairness in admission process, defeating merit and aspiration of the common incumbent with no means, the State has the right to frame regulatory regime for aided/ unaided minority/ private institutions," the court said.
"Building the nation is the main aspect of education, which could not be ignored and overlooked. They have to cater to national interest first, then their interest, more so, when such conditions can be prescribed for recognition, particularly in the matter of professional education," it maintained.
Some of the institutions which had challenged the NEET were Christian Medial College Vellore Association, AP Pvt Medical and Dental College Association, Annamalai University, Manipal University, Karnataka Pvt Medical, Kerala Private Medical College Management Association, Educate Charitable Trust, Tamil Nadu Deemed University Association, Darus Salam Education Trust.
Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were also petitioners in the bunch or cases pending before the Supreme Court since 2012.
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