SC: State Authority to prescribe Qualification for Medical College Admissions

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Aishwarya Rathore

Published on: August 7, 2021, at 12:41 IST

Supreme Court will consider whether a State has the authority to prescribe rules requiring higher or additional qualifications for admission to Medical Courses, than those set forth by the Centre or the Medical Council of India.

The bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and M. R. Shah was hearing the State of Assam’s Special Leave Petition (SLP) against the August 2019 decision of the Gauhati High Court striking down Rule 4(2)(c) of the Medical Colleges and Dental Colleges of Assam (Regulation of Admission into 1st Year MBBS Course) Rules, 2017, as notified by the Government of Assam.

The question before the Gauhati High Court was whether, with the holding of NEET, the State can continue to prescribe qualifications for admission into Medical Colleges which is higher than the eligibility qualification for appearing in the NEET or whether such a prescription of eligibility criteria would be in violation of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Graduate Medical Education Act, 1997.

The High Court noted that the 1956 Act was amended and Section 10D and Section 33(mb) were inserted with effect from 2016.

The High Court observed, “10D provides for Uniform Entrance Examination for undergraduate and postgraduate level. With the insertion of Section 33(mb), the MCI is empowered to make regulations to provide for designating authority, other languages and the manner of conducting of entrance examinations to all medical institutions.”

Rule 4(2)(c) was determined by the High Court to violate Section 10D of the Act of 1956 and the 1997 Regulations, and hence ultra vires.

Senior Advocate Maninder Singh for the State of Assam argued in the Supreme Court that a Uniform Common Entrance Test does not take away the State’s authority to set higher standards.

At this, Justice Shah observed, “There is a judgment of the Supreme Court which says that once the NEET has come into inception, the admission has to be through NEET only.”

Mr. Singh also drew the attention of the bench to the 2019 Supreme Court judgment in Yatinkumar Jasubhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, where a three-judge bench had observed that ‘Institutional Preference’ in the Post Graduate Medical Courses is permissible even after the introduction of the NEET Scheme. 

However, the bench did not issue notice on the SLP.

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