Bengaluru: Private Medical Colleges have suffered a setback with the Karnataka High Court upholding the Medical Council of India’s circular stating all medical colleges to fill up seats under the NRI/foreign nationals quota only from the merit list prepared on the basis of marks secured by the candidates, in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), from the academic year 2016-17.
The court made its stance clear while disposing of petitions filed by the Karnataka Professional Colleges’ Foundation, the MSR Medical College and Hospital, Bengaluru, the Manipal Academy of Higher Education Trust, and the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal and Mangaluru.
A division bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice S N Satyanarayana pronounced the order in court.
The Bench, while referring to the Supreme Court’s May 2016 order in the Vigyan Bharati Trust case, said that passing of NEET cannot be dispensed with, as MCI’s new regulation had made passing of NEET mandatory to seek admission to an MBBS course. In the Vigyan Bharati Trust case, the Supreme Court had said that “it will be open to the petitioner-institute to select such NRI students who have passed NEET examination for the academic year of 2016-17”.
The petitioners on the other hand were redressing court to quash the MCI communication, dated August 3, directing medical colleges to fill 15 per cent NRI quota seats from NEET merit rankings.Their contention being that the NRI students are a separate and distinct class and cannot be clubbed with Indian students. “They come from different countries and their curriculum, course and content and syllabus are completely different. It will also be impractical for them to come to India only to appear for NEET and come again for taking admission. It is well settled principle of law that to treat un equals as equals also violates Article 14 of the Constitution,” the petitioners added.
The private medical colleges in the past were allowed to admit NRI/foreign nationals up to a maximum 15 per cent of the total seats in their colleges every academic year. And till last year, there was no need for the students seeking admission under NRI/foreign national quota to appear for an entrance test.
If the requirement of the NEET either with meeting with the eligibility criteria or for selection of student is to be diluted or to be dispensed with for 2016-17, the Bench said, it is for the Supreme Court to make such changes and the High Court, “for observance of the principle of judicial discipline, would refrain from creating any situation which may result in diluting the effect of the requirement of NEET by the amendment brought about in the Regulation or even for carving out any exception for the academic year of 2016-17.” The Bench also said that the MCI’s circular cannot be termed as arbitrary.
Meanwhile, the Bench refused to disturb the current decision taken by the MCI for the admission of genuine NRI/foreign nationals made by the petitioners’ institutions till August 25, 2016. The court decided not to disturb the petitioners for two weeks from Thursday, in order to enable them to approach a higher court.