You may wonder what these numbers are… These numbers may or may not represent the cost… (whatever one may call) but really represent the slaughter of the articles 30,29,26,25 and 19 at the feet of the goddess of justice. Everyone knows that justice is blind, which means that it is impartial in giving its decisions irrespective of the status of the opposite parties. But, a new definition has cropped up after seeing the recent Supreme Court judgment regarding the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) exam. Now, justice is blind means — blind to the facts of case and giving judgment in favour of fat parties.
The news media said two years back that the Medical Council of India (MCI) was one of the most corrupt bodies in India. When the MCI mended its ways and tried to reform the system, see who put its foot down… the honourable Supreme Court — now the feet of indecision has engulfed the Supreme Court also. The articles invoked by the Supreme Court judges regarding the decision do not support their judgment from any angle — instead the articles numbers suggest something else. With more than 10,000 crore rupees changing hands during medical college admissions, I thought the honourable Supreme Court would come out clean and pronounce a reasonable judgment. Instead we got a completely skewed judgment in favour of the medical business. Now, “God also cannot save this country”… The allegations that the judgment was leaked even before it was pronounced in the court tell us about the sorry state of affairs dogging our country.
Yes… The implementation of NEET does not look reasonable at +2 level because there are different bodies of education like CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) and state boards etc. Students studying in different boards have different standards and unless a unifying educational system is in place, NEET cannot be implemented here. But, the same arguments do not apply to the NEET exam after MBBS. Wherever anyone goes in the world, almost the same type of textbooks and training methods are given in MBBS and it is easy to measure the capability of the students by a standard exam.
NEET has more advantages than disadvantages after MBBS for MD/MS entrance exam.
1. It can serve as an exit test after MBBS and only those doctors who can post a minimum qualifying mark would be able to practice medicine.
2. A uniform standardized exam means students don’t need to study different patterns and can concentrate their energy on a single method of examination, which will reduce stress on the student.
3. The cost of the examination would come down with NEET. Students appear at different centres and exams and the accompanying travel puts a lot of cost and strain on the aspiring student, which would come down drastically with NEET.
4. It may not root out but at least reduce the level of corruption that is going on in private medical colleges and elevate the standards, even in those colleges.
5. It can stem the rot that is creeping in the medical education at present at least to an extent.
I agree that all these arguments apply to a good, reasonably trained, ethical and honest student and not those doctors and Supreme Court judges who want to travel through shortcuts. If the judges live in the skin of the aspiring medical graduates even for one day, it won’t be difficult to understand why NEET is better for this country.
The preposterous arguments placed by the honourable judges to keep the autonomy of the institutions at the cost of gross commercialization of medical education and decrease in the level of standards are:
Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech
(1) All citizens shall have the right
(a) to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) to form associations or unions;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
(2) Nothing in sub clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
(3) Nothing in sub clause (b) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause.
(4) Nothing in sub clause (c) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause
(5) Nothing in sub clauses (d) and (e) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub clauses either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe.
(6) Nothing in sub clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the general public, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause, and, in particular, nothing in the said sub clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it relates to, or prevent the State from making any law relating to,
(i) the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practising any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business, or
(ii) the carrying on by the State, or by a corporation owned or controlled by the State, of any trade, business, industry or service, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of citizens or otherwise.
Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.
(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law
(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus. Explanation I — The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion. Explanation II — In sub clause (b) of clause reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.
Freedom to manage religious affairs Subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right
(a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes;
(b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;
(c) to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and
(d) to administer such property in accordance with law.
Protection of interests of minorities
(1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.
(2) No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.
Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions
(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
(1A) In making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of an educational institution established and administered by a minority, referred to in clause (1), the State shall ensure that the amount fixed by or determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is such as would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under that clause.
(2) The state shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.
There are three main questions posed by the court —
1. MCI can prescribe only minimum levels of education — Doesn’t getting a minimum qualifying mark in NEET stand for minimum quality of a Doctor? The loophole the court found was — MCI’s power to frame regulations for maintaining standards and conducting professional examinations does not include the right to hold an entrance test.
2. MCI didn’t consult with states and interfered with the rights of state governments — it is a frivolous argument because the same court upheld the appointment of vice-chancellors of universities in Bihar and Gujarat against the wishes of state governments. In fact, most of the state governments except Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (where almost all the private medical colleges are controlled by the rich politicians) concurred with MCI.
3. Interference of minority rights — this is already the most abused word by the politicians. Now, the Supreme Court also started to hide behind this veil. The argument only helps the rich minority students not the poor among them. The right to establish and administer institutions under the Constitution was held to include the right to admit students without any interference from the state, subject only to the condition that merit not be ignored. The P A Inamdar judgement (2005) evolved a triple test for admissions — that they be fair, transparent and non-exploitative — but reiterated that the right to frame such an admission procedure would remain with the unaided institutions. But this triple test is molested to an extreme degree nowadays. Justice A R Dave’s dissent argues that NEET creates a national pool of eligible candidates from whom institutions could select those belonging to a particular minority group they prefer or to any class or category that State-owned or aided institutions want to select under their reservation norms.
One should definitely applaud the cleverness of the judges in giving this calibrated judgment. They dragged this case as long as possible so that the students just kept begging for “some” decision whether good or bad (so that the academic year is not wasted). They then gave an interim judgment — just to get the measure of the response of the media and students — which was essentially muted. This gave them the boldness to pronounce this audacious judgment. Only Justice Dave is bold enough to resist the powerful private education business group. But his opinion didn’t count because good nowadays is easily suppressed.
The court should have allowed the NEET postgraduate exam and should have put a timeframe for the equalization of the standards for the +2 level. It’s high time the Government filed a review petition after making necessary changes in the MCI act and put a proper defence of the case in the court so that directly the medical students and profession is benefitted and indirectly millions of patients are benefitted.