New Delhi: Giving major respite to many students who appeared for NEET UG 2018 but were rejected due to the issuance of NEET Percentile criteria, the Supreme Court has allowed admission to the vacant seats of Bachelors in Homeopathy (BHMS) and Ayurveda (BAMS) on the basis of minimum marks in NEET 2018.
The candidates, who secured minimum marks in the NEET UG 2018, shall be eligible for admission for the academic year 2018-19 in BHMS and BAMS, the apex court stated.
The bench of honourable Justices L Nageswara Rao and Justice MR Shah passed the directive in view of a petition filed by Association of Management of Homeopathic Medical Colleges of Maharashtra against this changed eligibility criteria. The main contention of the Association was the introduction of the percentile criteria by the authorities in June 2018, much later than the conduct of the exam and that the same was not mentioned in the brochure for the exam that was released in the month of February 2018
The bench was notified about the letter dated 11th June, 2018, “the Government of India informed the State Governments that a candidate seeking admission to AYUSH under-graduate courses shall obtain a minimum of marks at 50th percentile in NEET. ” Pursuant thereto, the government by a notice dated 15th June, 2018 informed all the candidates about the changed eligibility criteria, namely, the introduction of the requirement of 50th percentile for open category and 40th percentile for reserved category.”
This was very different from what the candidates were believing while appearing for the exam
According to the Central Council of Homoeopathy (Degree Course) B.H.M.S. Regulations, 1983, a candidate should have passed the 10+2 or other equivalent examination after a period of 12 years’ study with the last two years of study comprising of Physics, Chemistry and Biology for admission to 1st year BHMS course.
On 5th February, 2018, an information brochure was issued by Respondent No.3 for NEET UG – 2018 for admission to Health Science courses i.e. MBBS/BDS/ BAMS/ BHMS/ BUMS/ BPTh/ BOTh/ BASLP/ BP&O/ B.Sc. (Nursing) in all Medical Educational Institutions in a State/ Union territory, including Medical Educational Institutions established by the Central Government, State Government, University, Deemed University, Trust, Society/ Minority Institutions/ Corporations/ Corporations or a company. The schedule for the entrance examination for admissions for the year 2018-19 was given in the information brochure. The entrance test was scheduled to be conducted on 6th May, 2018 and the results were to be declared by the first week of June, 2018.
After the declaration of results of NEET UG – 2018, a notice was issued on 6th June, 2018 by Respondent No.3 for online registration. In the meanwhile, the eligibility criteria for admission to BHMS Degree Course was altered by Respondent No.1 by a letter dated 11th June, 2018 pursuant to which a notice was issued by Respondent No.3. As per the changed criteria in the letter dated 11th June, 2018, a candidate from the open category will be eligible for admission only if he/she secured not less than 50th percentile of the marks in NEET-2018. A candidate belonging to the reserved category should secure not less than 40th percentile of the marks which shall be determined on the basis of highest marks secured in the all India common merit list in NEET- 2018.
Challenging the legality of the aforementioned letter, the Association first approached the government with representation with the government in which they stated that a large number of seats will remain unfilled if the altered standards are strictly followed. When no response came, it filed a Writ Petition in the Bombay High Court which was dismissed. Aggrieved thereby, it moved the SC.
The main contention of the association was that the altered standards for admission introduced by letter dated 11th June should not be applied to the ongoing admission process and that the admissions for the year 2018-19 should be conducted in accordance with the information brochure which was issued on 5th February, 2018. The Association was not aggrieved by the introduction of the NEET examination for admission into the BHMS course. It contended that the percentile method should not have been prescribed after the commencement of the admission process.
The HC had rejected their submission which held that the student community was aware about the criterion fixed for the admissions in June before the online process started much before the last date of registration on 17th June, 2018. As the selection is on the basis of merit, according to the HC, the introduction of minimum percentile cannot be said to be unjustified.
In response, the counsel appearing on behalf of the government submitted that the minimum of 50th percentile in NEET was revised to 35th percentile on the basis of the representation made on behalf of the appellants.
It was further stated that any further reduction in the minimum percentile would adversely affect the standards of education. The students will not be able to complete the minimum number of working days.
The Supreme court went through several orders passed by the various High Courts including Patna, Karnataka, Madras, Rajasthan, Punjab & Haryana, Allahabad and Kolkata, who permitted admission of candidates on the basis of the marks obtained in the qualifying examinations without taking into account the result of NEET 2018. In its observation, the SC bench stated,
“Though the last date for admission to the BHMS course was 15th November, 2018, we are informed that the last date was extended till 20th December, 2018 by the Allahabad High Court. Though there is no agreement on the exact number of vacant seats, it is common ground that there are vacant seats for admission to the 1st year BHMS course in the State of Maharashtra. As there is no uniformity in the matter of admission to the 1st year BHMS course for the year 2018-19, as securing minimum marks in NEET is not required in some States pursuant to orders of the High Courts, we are of the opinion that the Appellants are entitled to the relief of admissions being made without reference to the letter dated 11th June, 2018 of Respondent No.1 and the consequential notice of Respondent No.3. In other words, the Appellant-Association should be permitted to make admissions to the 1 st year BHMS course for the academic session 2018-19 on the basis of the eligibility criteria mentioned in the information brochure dated 5th February, 2018. A candidate who has secured minimum marks in the NEET UG-2018 shall be eligible for admission to the 1st year BHMS course for the academic year 2018-19”
Granting similar relief to Ayurvedic colleges, the court disposed off the plea and passed the following directives:
As two months have passed after the last date of admission to the 1 st year BHMS course i.e. 15th November, 2018, we direct the Appellants to complete the process of admissions strictly on the basis of the merit by 15th February, 2019.
The Managements of the colleges are directed to hold extra classes for students who will be admitted pursuant to this order to comply with the requirements of minimum working days.
This order which is passed in the peculiar facts of the case shall not be treated as a precedent. No opinion is expressed by us regarding the introduction of the minimum percentile as an eligibility criteria in the NEET examination.
The court as a byline mentioned that it would also be applicable to BAMS courses
Attached is the judgment below: