The Supreme Court Friday stayed the Bombay High Court order which had halted the directive by the Centre and the Maharashtra government to hold combined counselling of students for admission to MBBS and dental courses in accordance with the merit list of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).
“Prima facie, we are of the view that the High Court should not have stayed the orders issued by the State of Maharashtra and the Union of India dated 20.08.2016 and 09.08.2016, respectively. Hence the impugned order passed by the Bombay High Court is stayed till the next date of hearing,” said a bench led by Justice Shiva Kirti Singh.
The court also ordered the governments and private medical colleges, which challenged the directive of combined counselling, to maintain a status quo with regard to the admissions. The batch of appeal against the High Court order will now be heard by a five-judge Constitution Bench Monday. As per the Supreme Court’s order, the admission process for medical and dental courses has to be completed by September 30.
On August 31, the High Court had stayed the Government Resolution (GR) issued by the Maharashtra government and the circular issued by the Centre that asked for combined counselling of aspirants for medical and dental courses.
Issued on August 20 this year, the GR had made it mandatory for all deemed medical universities and dental colleges to admit students on the basis of the state-organised “Combined Counselling/Centralised Admission Process”. The GR was based on an August 9 letter from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
A clutch of petitions filed by several deemed universities challenged the GR and the ministry’s circular.
They contended that the deemed universities are governed by statutory powers of the UGC and by the Medical Council of India and the state government cannot infringe upon their rights to admit students.
In its appeal, the Centre argued that it was not tinkering with the colleges’ right to admit students, but was trying to streamline the process after the advent of NEET.
A day earlier, the University Grants Commission (UGC) ordered all deemed universities to conduct common counselling and admit students based on their National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) scores.
In an order to the vice-chancellors of all deemed universities, UGC Deputy Secretary Sunita Siwach instructed, “All Institutions Deemed to be Universities shall be part of common counselling for admission in medical courses organised either by State government/Central Government or through its agencies based on the marks obtained in NEET.”
Earlier, the High Court had granted the deemed universities an interim stay on a government resolution that made it compulsory for the universities to follow the centralised process for MBBS and BDS admissions on the basis of NEET scores. Three deemed universities had challenged the state. While the High Court allowed universities to conduct their own counselling, it also said the admissions should be based on NEET scores.
The UGC order, however, clarifies that deemed universities cannot conduct their own counselling and must go through the common counselling process. The development comes as a relief to aspirants and parents, who are currently demanding an 85 per cent reservation of seats for Maharashtra domicile. The Supreme Court will hear the case on Monday.