NEET Mandatory for BAMS, BHMS, BUMS admissions: Punjab and Haryana High court
The petitioners, who included all private Health Science Educational Institutions filed petitions challenged the constitutional validity of the notification prescribing passing of the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) as a necessary condition for grant of admissions in the BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery), BHMS (Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery), and BUMS (Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery) courses
The petitioner demanded that admissions to BAMS and BUMS courses be made on the basis of the marks obtained by the candidates in the 10+2 examination or at best, an entrance test to be conducted by the respective States and not on the basis of the NEET.
The counsel for the petitioners submitted that the amendment in the regulations and the letters have been issued by the Ministry of AYUSH without authority of law and beyond the regulation making power conferred by Section 36 of the Act of 1970.
It was further submitted that even if the regulations and letters are held to be valid, the impugned amendment in the regulations cannot be implemented for 2019-20 Session as the last date to apply for appearing in the NEET examination was 30.11.2018 whereas the Regulation was amended after the cut of date on 07.12.2018, as a result of which the candidates who were desirous of obtaining admissions in BHMS, BAMS and BUMS courses could not appear in the NEET examination as they had no information or knowledge as on the last date of submitting the application form for appearing in the NEET examination, that appearing and passing in the NEET examination was compulsory.
It was submitted that in such circumstances the act of the respondents'/authorities in granting admission through centralized counselling on the basis of NEET is contrary to law and deserves to be quashed with a direction to the authorities to permit the petitioners to fill up the vacant seats at the college level or by the States of Punjab and Haryana on the basis of the 10+2 result.
In response Learned Additional Advocate General, Punjab informed the court that by notification dated 28.05.2018, it was notified that the admissions to the said courses shall be based on the merit of NEET to be conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education and authorized Guru Ravi Das Ayurvedic University, Hoshiarpur to conduct the centralized counseling for admissions to BAMS, BHMS and BUMS courses on the basis of marks obtained in NEET. It is submitted that the entire procedure including the requirement for applying for admission on the basis of NEET was notified and made known to the public at large by the said notification on 28.05.2018 and was well within the knowledge of all concerned.
Listening to the submissions, the court noted that no student or candidate has approached this Court challenging the selection through NEET on any ground whatsoever and the petitions have been filed only by the private colleges.
It is also an undisputed fact that the State of Punjab has framed the Punjab Act and issued a notification dated 28.05.2018 that is referable to the powers contained in Section 3(3) of the Punjab Act. It is also apparent that under the provisions of section 2(b) of the Punjab Act, common entrance test for making admissions to the courses concerned can be conducted by the State of Punjab or any authority authorized by it and that the State of Punjab by the notification dated 28.05.2018 has clearly stated that the admissions to the courses concerned shall be made on the basis of NEET. This stipulation in the notification is a clear authorization of the agency conducting NEET and is referable to Section 2(b) of the Punjab Act.
The State of Punjab in the affidavit filed before this Court has clarified this aspect and stated that they have complied with the directions issued from time to time by the Central Council and that they are bound by them and that in compliance thereof they have already issued a notification for making the admissions to the courses concerned on the basis of NEET. Similar submissions have been made by the State of Haryana and an identical notification dated 01.08.2019 for the session 2019-20 has been issued by it.
The court noted that rather than challenging the admission process of Punjab and Haryana, the petitioners have only challenged the act of the Central Council and the Union of India in amending the regulation vide impugned notification dated 07.12.2018 and the instructions issued by the Central Council asking the States to make admissions only on the basis of NEET on the ground that the same are beyond the authority of the Central Council.
Apparently in the absence of any challenge to the notifications issued by the States of Punjab and Haryana and the admissions being made by the States themselves on their own by adopting the result of the NEET, mere challenge to the amendment in the regulations made by the Central Council and the instructions issued thereunder are meaningless as even a successful challenge to the same would not affect or reflect upon the validity of the admissions made by the States themselves on the basis of the State legislations and the notifications issued by them.
Rejecting the arguments presented by the council of the petitioner, the court noted that as the notifications of Punjab and Haryana not just prescribe that NEET is compulsory but stretches way beyond it and lay down the entire procedure for making admissions in Ayush courses, whereas the impugned notification is confined to the limited extent of inserting a clause in the regulation framed by the Central Council making NEET compulsory and does not prescribe the procedure for making admissions.
Hence the court found no reason to interfere with the decisions of the State of Punjab and Haryana to conduct admissions on the basis of NEET.
As far as the first contention of senior counsel for the petitioners regarding lack of power or authority in the Central Council to make the regulation prescribing for NEET on the ground, the court went in detail on the position of the law as well as various judgements passed by the hon'ble courts in this regard and upheld the decision and power of the council to make the requisite regulations. The court also junked the argument alleging lack of prior intimation
As far as the contention of learned senior counsel for the petitioners regarding lack of prior intimation and knowledge of the necessity for appearing in NEET is concerned, it is pertinent to note that none of the students have approached this Court alleging that they had no knowledge or information regarding the requirement of appearing in NEET for the purposes of obtaining admission in BAMS, BHMS & BUMS courses and therefore, per se the contention of the petitioner colleges to the contrary being unsubstantiated deserves no consideration...
.....In fact the Union of India has brought on record the fact that 7,97,060 candidates have qualified against 37,906 Ayush seats. In the circumstances we are of the consideration opinion that this issue raised by the petitioners is meritless and deserves to be rejected.
The court then dismissed the petitions.
In view of the conclusion recorded by us that NEET is mandatory for obtaining admissions in Ayush under Graduate courses, therefore, all admissions made to the contrary are illegal and cannot be sustained and therefore, only those admissions made on the basis of appearing and passing in NEET can be sustained or continued by the authorities. It is directed accordingly.