A DECADES-LONG legal battle to preserve an admission process that Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore had been following since 1946 came to an end on Wednesday, with the Supreme Court ruling that all admissions to graduate and postgraduate programmes in medical and dental courses in the country should be based on the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).
Asserting that NEET was in “national interest” to improve the quality of medical education, the apex court disagreed with a key argument of CMC Vellore —one of the petitioners — by saying that the NEET regulations do not violate minority rights as the same have been prescribed to weed out the maladies plaguing professional education.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr Peter John Victor, Director of CMC Vellore, said they have been following the NEET selection process for admissions in the past two years. “So there is no change in the existing system,” he said.
Krishna Srinivasan, a lawyer who had been fighting the case for CMC Vellore for over three decades, said they are bound to follow the SC order. “We will continue to follow NEET admission process subject to the National Medical Commission Act, which will come in force soon,” he said.
While CMC Vellore seems to have no immediate plans to seek a review, the Supreme Court order may impact the Tamil Nadu government’s long-standing demand for exemption from NEET.
Legal battles may continue over larger questions on minority rights before a larger bench of the Supreme Court. However, the bench on Wednesday held that there was no question of discrimination in respect of minority institutions as both majority and minority institutions will have to admit students through the common entrance test conducted by the agency appointed by MCI or DCI.
A batch of petitions was originally filed in the apex court in 2012, by CMC Vellore among others, challenging the constitutional validity of the NEET notifications issued by the MCI and DCI. Essentially, it was a legal fight to protect the admission process it was following since 1946. CMC followed this process — inspired by selection for armed forces in pre-Independent India — with the help of multiple intern orders from the Supreme Court from 1993 to 2012, and at least 17 court orders endorsing their selection process, even after the state government tried to impose a common system.
“We had our own nationwide entrance exam followed by an interview session where the aptitude of candidates was evaluated by a group of doctors. Evaluating the candidate’s proficiency as a doctor was part of this process. In this manner, we got the best candidates, who were committed to work in rural areas even after postgraduation. Attrition rate of candidates passing out of CMC for a future in a foreign country was also lowest —- 80 per cent of them serve in India,” Srinivasan said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines