NEET is not student-friendly, merit-promoting-THE HINDU-16-05-2020
In such States institutions of higher learning controlled and managed by governmental agencies act like mercenaries, promote the political purposes of the State, make them acceptable to an increasing number of their populations and supply them with the weapons they need. In 2016, not only was a review of this judgment allowed but the dissenting judge of the 2013 judgment made NEET compulsory even prior to a full hearing by the constitution Bench.
NEET is an assault on the autonomy of universities and higher education institutions, particularly private, unaided ones. Similarly in the name of NEET or the state’s power to “regulate”, the rights of unaided private institutions and minority institutions cannot be violated as regulation cannot annihilate minority character.
Certainly minorities do not have right to “mal-administer” their institutions yet due to admission mal-practices practised by the few institutions, denial of Article 30 rights and Article 19 rights of private unaided institutions is absolutely wrong.
For example, Tamil Nadu has been opposing NEET. Second, it gives a student a right to select an institution of his choice. In the 2018 NEET, as many as 49 questions had errors in Tamil translation leading to a Madras High Court order to award four marks for each of the 49 wrongly translated questions, or 196 marks to all 1.07 lakh candidates of Tamil Nadu.
The Supreme Court overruled this order as the High Court had arbitrarily ordered giving grace marks to everyone without examining whether the student even attempted such a question.
Element of class:
NEET is considered the best option as our judges genuinely think it promotes merit. When NEET and other such admission tests do not meet this fundamental criteria, competition cannot be termed as fair and just, and the equality of opportunity becomes illusionary.
There is substantial scholarship in the West that argues that common admission tests cannot measure abilities that are essential for learning such as imagination, curiosity and motivation. Justice Mishra did concede the point of a lack of commitment of doctors to serve in rural areas but eventually decided in favour of NEET in the name of merit.
In fact substantive equality as opposed to formal equality, mandates differential treatment. There are even hundreds of minority institutions of Hindus as linguistic minorities. The Court’s opinion in Kerala Education Bill , on minority rights, has been religiously cited in all subsequent judgments but without paying much attention to the crucial statement where there was the observation that the key words in Article 30 are ‘of their own choice. ’ Holding ‘choice’ to be the dominant word, then Chief Justice Das said that ‘the content of the article is as wide as the choice of the particular minority can make it’.
If a minority institution wants additional qualifications over and above the NEET score, denial of such additional and superior qualifications undermines its choice.
Even if one concedes the necessity of NEET, centralised counselling due to which several minority institutions and private medical colleges are unable to fill their seats is indeed an ‘intolerable encroachment’. Justice Mishra has rightly relied on T. Pai Foundation, where the Court had held that admission by the management can be by a common entrance test held by “itself or by the State/University”. Moreover, it is important that here universities and state were treated on a par and an admission test by the university was considered as good as a test conducted by the State.
What a 11-judge Bench really emphasised was that an admission process must be fair and transparent rather than just one test for all institutions.