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SC refers to another bench plea against NEET Ordinance


New Delhi: Supreme Court on Monday referred to another bench a plea seeking quashing of a recently- promulgated ordinance which allows states to continue with their separate entrance tests for MBBS and BDS courses, besides uniform medical entrance test NEET for academic year 2016-17.

“This (plea) will go to the bench (headed by Justice A R Dave) which is hearing the related matter,” a bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice D Y Chandrachud said. The plea was filed in May end by Indore-based doctor Anand Rai who also claims to be a whistle blower in the Vyapam scam. Besides seeking quashing of the ordinance which got Presidential assent on May 24, the plea has also sought a stay on its operation as an interim relief.

Referring to Centre’s stand to support the single-window National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions, the plea said the government has now taken a “complete U-turn” which shows “malafides and ill intent towards the process of admission of students who shall suffer the most”. “The normal democratic legislative process involves the people’s representatives in the two Houses openly enacting a law after full consideration and discussion, an ordinance seeks to circumvent this procedure for it is drafted secretly in government chambers and is promulgated without an open discussion and hence it becomes even more pertinent that the ordinance-making power is not invoked lightly but only when absolutely necessary to do so, and the situation cannot be otherwise met effectively,” it said.

“The present ordinance is a completely contradictory stand by the respondent (Centre) within a span of 4 weeks, this is also a belated stage as the examination itself is to be scheduled within the next 8 weeks as per the Schedule given by the Respondent Union itself and the discriminating ordinance further creates confusion amongst students.” The ordinance keeps state boards out of the ambit of uniform medical entrance examination NEET for the present academic session.

The executive order is aimed at “partially” overturning a Supreme Court order which said the NEET will be held on July 24, the plea said. 6.5 lakh students have already taken the first phase of NEET test on May 1. The next phase of the exam is scheduled for July 24.

The ordinance provided that students of state government boards will not have to sit for NEET on July 24 and they will have to become part of the uniform entrance exam from the next academic session. The exam will be applicable for those applying for central government and private management institutions under the management quota.

The apex court had on May 9 rejected pleas of state governments and minority institutions to allow them to hold separate entrance exams for MBBS and BDS courses for 2016-17, saying only NEET provides for conducting such test for admission to these courses.

The top court had approved the schedule put before it by the Centre, CBSE and Medical Council of India (MCI) for treating All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) fixed for May 1 as NEET-1. It had said those who have not applied for AIPMT will be given opportunity to appear in NEET-II on July 24 and the combined result would be declared on August 17, so that the admission process can be completed by September 30.

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