Delhi HC Slams Medical Council of India for Arbitrary Clauses on Biology for NEET
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court, bringing relief to many students who take Biology/Biotechnology as an additional subject has announced that all students who have qualified their 10+2 exam with additional subjects of biology either at one go, or after a year and have also cleared their NEET exam and counselling are to be considered eligible for being given an MBBS seat in any of the medical colleges across India.
With the judgment, the court has waived aside the MCI stand that ‘students who complete a 10+2 either at one go or after a year do so without laboratory experience’ as arbitrary as this stance taken by the MCI is based on ‘conclusions rather on any data or objective material.’
The court was responding to the Tanishq Gangwar and many other sets of medical aspirants who had appeared in NEET and qualified in the entrance examination, and were also successful during counseling, but not granted final admission in the allotted seats. This came after the MCI Regulations debarred all candidates who have passed 10+2 level with Biology/Biotechnology as an additional subject whether simultaneously or subsequently at 10+2 level.
During the course of hearing, the MCI, without further amending the impugned Regulations issued a clarification that the impugned Regulations does not apply to students who have studied biology/biotechnology as an additional subject simultaneously with other subjects at 10+2 level, however would debar students who had studied biology/biotechnology as additional subject subsequent of passing 10+2 without these subjects. The MCI, by way of clarification in the Court modified an existing statutory provision, without any formal amendment.
The petitioners complain that this has resulted in the creation of an artificial and arbitrary sub-classification amongst similarly placed categories of persons who had studied biology as an
'additional subject' at 10+2 level.
The MCI counter in the matter stated that the NEET system incorporated by the statutory regulations of the MCI were to standardize entry of candidates into the field of medical education so that only those with the right aptitude, proficiency and competence gain entry.
It is humbly reiterated that the Statutory Regulation seeks to obtain candidates for admission in MBBS course of a particular caliber, who shall be judged on the basis of their competence to score a requisite percentage of marks when he/ she undergoes teaching and training along with practicals in the concerned subjects while attending a regular school thus obtaining a particular percentage of marks in the concerned subjects. On the other hand, in respect of candidates who did not undergo teaching and training along with practicals in the concerned subjects for two years prior to appearing in the 10+2 examination, there being no restriction on the manner of teaching and training along with practicals in the concerned subjects, shall make the object to the Statutory Regulations redundant as there will be no parameter to judge their level of competence at that stage. The caliber of the candidates who obtain admission in MBBS course shall determine the quality of teaching and training of MBBS students and the finally the quality of doctors who shall provide health care in the Country.
Such candidates who after completing 10+2 examination have taken the subject of Biology as an additional subject, cannot be said to have achieved the level of excellence as required under the Statutory Regulations, even though they might have obtained the requisite percentage.
The court after going through observed, slammed MCI on lack of empirical study :
Lack of any empirical study, supporting the MCI’s conclusion that those who qualify from regular scholastic study in the 10+2 exams with additional subjects of biology/biotechnology either at one go, or after a year, do so without laboratory experience, render Regulation 4 (2) (a) to that extent arbitrary. Juxtaposed with clauses (b) (of Regulation 4 (2) which talks of Intermediate state boards) which does not bespeak of any such disqualification, the irrational and arbitrary nature of the regulation stands out in sharp relief. As outlined in para 24, the MCI’s regulations are based on its conclusions rather on any data or objective material. For these reasons, it is held that the category covered in Sl. No. (7) of the clarification issued by MCI and the regulation (Regulation 4 (2) (a)) to the extent it sets out the impugned disqualification “Furthermore, study of “Furthermore, study of WP(C) No.6773/2018 Page 40 Biology/Biotechnology as an Additional Subject at 10+2 level also shall not permissible…" are hereby set aside as discriminatory and arbitrary.”
The judgment also noted that
“The MCI’s position that those appearing in additional subjects are disqualified and ineligible from NEET participation is on an assumption that those who offer the relevant subjects (biology/biotechnology) as additional subjects do not undergo classroom learning. There is no underlying basis in the form of empirical material, or in the form of analysis of various state boards curricula, or syallabi, or even the examination regulations, to support this assumption.’
The court further stated that as
As a premiere standard evolving body, MCI’s determinations are weighty; courts are expected to defer to its expert judgment particularly in regard to norms and standards of medical education, including norms for admission. Yet, those regulations are delegated legislation; they have to stand the test of non-arbitrariness and reasonableness. No doubt, courts would not interfere with them in a routine manner.”
The judgment that was delivered by a bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice A K Chawla also made a mention of the NIOS participation in the NEET .
On the question of open school candidates the judgement mentioned the MCI’S earlier contention that they could not be compared to those who had received regular education and training in the concerned subjects making them of requisite caliber and quality called for in doctors.
The judgment further stated that:
these issues concededly need elaborate consideration, rather than a positive assertion of executive discretion based on expert regulatory judgment. Such elaborate examination would necessarily involve, whether and if so, there are justifiable reasons to exclude such category of candidates from participating in NEET and gaining admissions; also whether such reasons are germane and reasonable.