SC: NEET does not violate Articles 19(1)(g) & 30 r/w 25, 26 & 29(1)

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 29th April 2020, in the matter of Christian Medical College Vellore Association v. Union Of India And Others pronounced that prescribing the uniform examination of NEET for all admissions in the graduate and postgraduate professional courses of medical as well as dental science does not interfere with the rights under Articles 19(1)(g) and 30 read with Articles 25, 26 and 29(1) of the Constitution of India.

Whether by providing centralised examination system – NEET for admission to MBBS, PG, BDS and MDS by virtue of the provisions made in the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and regulations, there is violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19(1)(g), 25, 26, 29(1) and 30 of the Constitution of India ?

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

The NEET has been prescribed by the Legislature in the larger public interest that has to prevail. (Para 46)

There is no doubt as to the concept of limited Government and least interference is welcomed, but in which field and to what extent balancing with the larger public and national interest is required. The individual autonomy, rights, and obligations are to be free from official interference except where the rational basis for intrusion exists. The Constitution provides a limitation on the power of the State to interfere with life, liberty, and rights, however, the concept of limited government cannot be extended to a level when it defeats the very national interest. (Para 47)

The maladies with which professional education suffers in this country are writ large. The regulatory framework created by the MCI/ DCI is concomitant of conditions, affiliation and recognition, and providing central examination in the form of NEET cannot be said to be violative of the rights under Articles 19(1)(g) and 30. (Para 47)

The prescription of NEET is definitely in order to improve the medical education, co­related to the improvement of public health, thus, it is a step­in furtherance of the duty of the State enshrined in the Directive Principles of the State Policy contained in Article 47 of the Constitution of India. Similarly, Article 46 aims at promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other weaker sections. By prescription of one equivalence examination of NEET, the interest of their merit is also equally protected and its aims of preventing various malpractices, which crept into system and prevent economic exploitation by selling seats with which malady the professional medical education system suffered. Article 51A(j) deals with the duty to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement. For that purpose, recognition of merit is necessary, and one has to be given a full opportunity in pursuit of his/her aim. The prescription of NEET is to provide equal opportunity and level launching platform to an individual to perform his duty as enshrined under Article 51A(j). (Para 48)

The educational institutions, both of a non­ minority and minority character, can be regulated and controlled so that they do not indulge in selling seats of learning to make money. They can be allowed to generate such funds as would be reasonably required to run the institute and for its further growth. (Para 50)

With respect to unaided minority educational institutions, Article 30 of the Constitution does not come in the way of the State stepping in for the purpose of securing transparency and recognition of merit in the matter of admissions, and the conditions of recognition are binding on such institutions. (Para 50)

With respect to unaided minority educational institutions, Article 30 of the Constitution does not come in the way of the State stepping in for the purpose of securing transparency and recognition of merit in the matter of admissions, and the conditions of recognition are binding on such institutions. (Para 50)

Education is vital for the nation; it develops the ethos of the nation. Regulations are necessary to see that there are no divisive or disintegrating forces in administration. It observed that it is not reasonable to claim that minority institutions will have complete autonomy. Some checks may be necessary and will serve the academic needs of the institution. A correlative duty of good administration is attached to the right to administer educational institution. (Para 51)

The institution cannot be allowed to fall below the standards of excellence under the guise of the exclusive right of the management. Minorities are as much part of the nation as the majority, and anything that impinges upon national interest must necessarily in its ultimate operation affect the interests of all. (Para 51)

NEET/common entrance test is a devise to standardise and computing equivalence between different kinds of qualifications. It does not interfere with the rights of the unaided minority institutions as it has been imposed in national interest considering the malpractices of granting illegal admission by virtually selling the seats in derogation to rights of meritorious students. The charitable activity of education became a saleable commodity and prerogative of wealthy persons and poor students were forced to get education funded from Banks making it difficult for them to come out of tentacular octave of interest. They are exploited in bud before they bloom into flower. (Para 53)

Education is not a commodity to be purchased by money power and deserving one as per merit cannot be deprived of the right to obtain it. The State cannot remain a mute spectator, and it must step in to prevent exploitation. (Para 54)

By and large, at present education is devoid of its real character of charity, it has become a commodity. 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 as mandated by Directives Principles, Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. (Para 55)

Rights under Articles 19(1)(g) and 30 read with Articles 25, 26 and 29(1) of the Constitution of India do not come in the way of securing transparency and recognition of merits in the matter of admissions. It is open to regulating the course of study, qualifications for ensuring educational standards. It is open to imposing reasonable restrictions in the national and public interest. (Para 58)

The rights of the religious or linguistic minorities under Article 30 are not in conflict with other parts of the Constitution. Balancing the rights is constitutional intendment in the national and more enormous public interest. Regulatory measures cannot be said to be exceeding the concept of limited governance. (Para 59)

Reasonable regulatory measures can be provided without violating such rights available under Article 30 of the Constitution to administer an institution. Professional educational institutions constitute a class by themselves. Specific measures to make the administration of such institutions transparent can be imposed. (Para 59)

There is no violation of the rights of the unaided/aided minority to administer institutions under Articles 19(1) (g) and 30 read with Articles 25, 26 and 29(1) of the Constitution of India by prescribing the uniform examination of NEET for admissions in the graduate and postgraduate professional courses of medical as well as dental science. (Para 60)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_29-Apr-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik 

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