Supreme Court refuses to interfere with NEET exam

The Supreme Court Friday refused to entertain a plea which sought quashing of the answer keys of some questions in the NEET(UG)-2019 examination saying that an expert body has duly applied its mind and revised answers were issued.

The top court, however, allowed the four Hyderabad based students who have challenged the answer keys, to approach the high court for the relief.

It said that courts are not experts in each and every subject and time has come when the interference in this arena should be stopped.

A vacation bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Surya Kant allowed the four medical aspirants to withdraw their plea and granted them liberty to approach the high court with their grievances.

At the outset, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the students, said that wrong answer key were given by the National Testing Agency which conducted the exam on May 5.

He said the five questions having four marks each had more than one correct answers or had an answer which was different from answer key issued by the NTA.

“All multiple choice answers cannot be scrutinized by the this court. We are not experts. We think somewhere some line needs to be drawn,” the bench said.

It said that interfering with the answer key would mean that Supreme Court has become an appellate body above the NTA.

The bench said that after the answer keys were issued to the questions asked in the May 5 examination, several students had made representation about the correct answers and subsequently revised answer key were issued.

“We see, an expert body has applied its mind and revised answer key was issued. In some cases, the answers were corrected. There does not seems to be a case of mala fide intent,” it said.

Singhvi said that students career will be affected if the answers key were not corrected and suggested that an expert body should be constituted which shall look into the correct answer keys as the counselling is yet to start from June 19.

“Now a days, there is too much interference going on in this arena which is creating lot of problem,” the bench said.

Counsel appearing for another set of students from Kolkata, who have filed a similar plea in Delhi High Court said that their petition was coming up for hearing on June 17.

He said that NTA has initially in its information voucher said that there will be only one answer to the questions in NEET examination but it was later found that a question had more than one answers.

To this, the bench told Singhvi said that it would be appropriate if they approach the high court with their grievances.

Yesterday, the apex court had agreed to hear a plea of medical aspirants, who claimed that the answer key of five questions asked in NEET(UG)-2019 exam was wrong and the paper needs to be quashed.

The petition filed by four Hyderabad-based students — Kayathi Mohan Reddy and three others through advocate Mahfooz Nazki, said that National Testing Agency (NTA) which conducted the exam issued wrong answer keys and therefore jeopardised the career prospects of the aspirants who sat for the exam.

The exam was conducted on May 5 and the official answer key was issued on May 29 to the questions asked in the examination.

“Upon perusal of the key, the petitioners were shocked to note that answers to a number of questions were demonstrably wrong,” the plea said.

The students said they gave the representation about the errors in the official answer key on May 30 and subsequently on June 5, a revised answer key was published.

“Pertinently, no option was given to the candidates to file any objections. To the shock and chagrin of the petitioners, not only did the key continue to have errors, some answers that had been correctly notified earlier, stood changed to a wrong answer,” the petition said.

“…it is thus ex-facie evident that the whole exercise of examination conducted by the respondent no. 1 (NTA) is grossly illegal, arbitrary and impinges upon the constitutional and fundamental rights of the Petitioners herein and is vitiated in terms of the law laid down by this Court”, it said.

The plea said, “The respondents have not only failed to rectify the defects/errors in the question papers but have also refused to accept any representations sought to be made by the petitioners in respect of the revised key. The whole process is, therefore vitiated and is liable to be set aside”.

Delhi High Court Allows Admission To UG Courses In DU Based On Last Year’s Eligibility Criteria

The Delhi High Court Friday directed Delhi University and the University Grants Commission (UGC) to allow students to apply for admission to undergraduate (UG) courses at the varsity for the current academic session based on the eligibility criteria of 2018-19. A bench of Justices Anu Malhotra and Talwant Singh extended the deadline from June 14 to June 22 for students to apply for the undergraduate courses in DU.

With these two directions, the high court disposed of three petitions, two PILs and a plea by a student, challenging the recent amendment made to the eligibility criteria for 2019-20 for admissions to several UG courses, including B.Com (Hons) and BA (Hons) Economics, which require that Maths be part of the best of four subjects. The court, in its 17-page order, said these directions will not preclude DU from making changes to the eligibility criteria in the forthcoming year to its UG courses as required.

But the bench made it clear that the changes in eligibility criteria have to be made in accordance with law, “which would require a minimum of six months of public notice to the public at large”. The registration for admission to DU commenced on May 30 and according to the plan it was to end on June 14. The petitions have contended that students have been caught unawares as the eligibility criteria for some courses had been changed a day before the opening of registration on May 30. Earlier in the day, the high court observed that DU’s recent decision to change the admission norms for various undergraduate courses could have been announced much earlier. “There is no dispute that you have to be in tune with the times.

Nothing prevents you from improving education standards. No one is saying your decision (amendment) is not right, but your timing may not be right,” it said. During the more than an hour long arguments, the court said the eligibility criteria were meant for students who gave the 2018-19 Class 12 board exams and DU’s amended norms came a day before start of registration. “Can you (DU) change it a day before? You could have given three months prior notice to students,” the bench said. Defending its decision, the varsity said it changes the eligibility criteria for courses every year and the Bulletin of Information (BIS) was meant for only one particular academic year and was not a statutory rule.

Therefore, there was no need to give prior notice before making changes to the BIS, the university said. Its lawyers also told the court that no student would be deprived of admission due to the new norms and if anyone is affected they can approach its grievance committee or the court. Advocate Anupam Srivastava, appearing for his daughter Khushi, said there would be more than one per cent difference in her best of four score if Maths was included in the top four subjects. He said admissions to top DU colleges are often lost over much smaller margins than one per cent. The petitioners claimed that change in the eligibility criteria of various courses, including B.Com (Hons) and BA (Hons) in Economics, was illegal and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution as it was done arbitrarily, without any prior notice. They have sought quashing of the criteria which included mathematics compulsorily as one of the subjects in best of four subjects (BFS) for admission in BA (Hons) in Economics from the academic year 2019-20 as per the ‘Bulletin of Information’ circulated on May 29 for admission to UG courses.

Alternatively, the petitions have sought a direction to the authorities to implement the eligibility criteria followed by the university in the past three consecutive years and to make the new norms applicable from the next academic session. Till last year, if a student had 50 per cent in Mathematics, he or she could apply for BA (Hons) in Economics, but this year the subject has been made mandatory for ‘Best of Four’, which means Mathematics has to be part of the top four subjects, aggregate of which will be considered for admission, the pleas have said. Similarly, B.Com (Hons) required a student to have passed Mathematics/Business Mathematics with an aggregate of 45 per cent marks as a mandatory requirement, they said.

This year, the criteria have been tweaked mandating that a student should have 50 per cent or more marks in Mathematics/Business Mathematics and an aggregate of 60 per cent with number of new conditionalities attached, the petitions have also said. According to news reports, members of the Academic and Executive councils of the Delhi University had recently written to the vice-chancellor to reverse the changes brought in the eligibility criteria for various courses, describing them as “arbitrary” and “unwarranted”. The letter had urged the vice-chancellor to restore the earlier criteria for this academic session on an “urgent basis”.

NEET (UG)-2019 Wrong Answer Key: Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Plea Of Students Tomorrow

The Supreme Court agreed Thursday to hear tomorrow a plea of medical aspirants, who claimed that the answer key of five questions asked in NEET(UG)-2019 exam was wrong and the paper needs to be quashed. A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi agreed to hear the plea filed by four students who appeared for the exam.

The petition filed by four Hyderabad-based students — Kayathi Mohan Reddy and three others through advocate Mahfooz Nazki, said that National Testing Agency (NTA) which conducted the exam issued wrong answer keys and therefore jeopardised the career prospects of the aspirants who sat for the exam.

The exam was conducted on May 5 and the official answer key was issued on May 29 to the questions asked in the examination. “Upon perusal of the key, the petitioners were shocked to note that answers to a number of questions were demonstrably wrong,” the plea said.

The students said they gave the representation about the errors in the official answer key on May 30 and subsequently on June 5, a revised answer key was published. “Pertinently, no option was given to the candidates to file any objections. To the shock and chagrin of the petitioners, not only did the key continue to have errors, some answers that had been correctly notified earlier stood changed to a wrong answer,” the petition said. “…it is thus ex-facie evident that the whole exercise of the examination conducted by the respondent no. 1 (NTA) is grossly illegal, arbitrary and impinges upon the constitutional and fundamental rights of the Petitioners herein and is vitiated in terms of the law laid down by this Court”, it said.

The plea said, “The respondents have not only failed to rectify the defects/errors in the question papers but have also refused to accept any representations sought to be made by the petitioners in respect of the revised key. The whole process is, therefore vitiated and is liable to be set aside”.

EWS Reservation: Supreme Court Rejects Pleas To Modify Directions On PG Medical Courses Admission in Maharashtra

The Supreme Court on Monday did not deem necessary to alter its June 4 order by which students were restrained from changing their original options in the fresh round of counselling for the PG Medical seats in Maharashtra. However, the vacation bench headed by Justice Indira Bannerjee allowed for the seats lying unfilled by reason of the EWS quota being scrapped to be allotted in accordance with merit.

On May 30, the SC had ordered that 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections cannot be applied for current year admission to Post Graduate Medical seats in Maharashtra, as the admission process had started before the insertion of Article 16(6) in the Constitution by way of 103rd amendment, which provided for EWS quota.

The Court said that EWS Quota cannot be applied for 2019-20 as the Medical Council of India had not increased the seats. The Court had ordered reshuffling of all seats after reverting EWS seats to general category.

After that, few students approached the Court stating that a mere reshuffling of seats without a fresh round of counselling will cause prejudice to the students. Acting on this application, the Court on June 4 directed the Common Entrance Test Cell to hold a fresh counselling, after giving wide publicity. Physical counselling, instead of online counselling, was directed to be held, as per the suggestion of the Medical Council of India.

The Court also directed that students will not be permitted to change the options/preferences which were originally given at the time of applying in March. This restriction was sought to be modified by the application filed by Sagar Damodar Sarda and sixteen others. Their application filed through Advocate Krishna Kumar Singh states that students were permitted to submit online options/preferences only from March 30 to April 2, after the EWS quota was implemented on March 7. The options of the students were restricted by the EWS quota, and hence the submission of online preferences in that backdrop cannot be termed as a “valid exercise”, states the application. It was contended that since the SC has now ordered the reversion of EWS seats to general category, the students should be given a chance to change options in the fresh round of counselling.

Streamline Entire Education System, Supreme Court Tells State & Central Govts

The entire education system of the country should be streamlined so that students do not have to face stress while seeking admissions to various courses, the Supreme Court said Tuesday. Taking note of “plight of students” due to uncertainty over admissions to postgraduate medical and dental courses in the academic year 2019-20 in Maharashtra, the apex court said such a situation is difficult for the meritorious students.

“Our anxiety is for the students. This happens every year and there is uncertainty in the mind of students with regard to admissions in medical or other courses,” a vacation bench comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and M R Shah said while hearing the Maharashtra medical admission matter. “Why don’t you streamline the entire education system? Why this tension and stress to the students? Why all these litigations,” the bench said.

“We are telling the states as well the Union of India to look at the plight of the students,” the bench said, adding that uncertainty over admissions would have an effect on the entire career of the candidates. The bench pulled up the Maharashtra government for the uncertainty in the state regarding admission to postgraduate medical and dental courses in the academic year 2019-20. “State of Maharashtra is solely responsible for this situation and the uncertainty which is there today also,” the bench said.

The court observed that students were worried about the colleges and courses which they would get for further studies and it was difficult for them to remain in uncertainty like this. The bench, while referring to the orders passed by the apex court and the subsequent development in the Maharashtra PG admission matter, said it does not want to pass any order which would effect other students. “It is too late to disturb anything. We do not want to create further problem,” it said. The bench ordered Maharashtra government to conduct final round of counselling for admissions to postgraduate medical and dental courses in the academic year 2019-20 by June 14.

The apex court had earlier stayed the Maharashtra government’s notification to grant 10 percent reservation in admissions for academic year 2019-20 to economically weaker sections (EWS) in PG medical and dental courses.

Supreme Court seeks response from Centre, CBSE on plea seeking 10% quota for economically weaker sections in CTET 2019

The Supreme Court Thursday sought responses from the Centre and CBSE on a plea seeking ten per cent reservation for economically weaker sections in Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET), 2019.

The petitioners told the apex court that CBSE published an advertisement on January 23, 2019 for conducting CTET in which benefit of ten per cent reservation has not been given to candidates belonging to economically weaker sections of society

A vacation bench comprising justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna issued notices to the Centre and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on the plea and asked them to respond to it by July 1, the next date of hearing.

The court was hearing a plea by some petitioners belonging to economically weaker sections and planning to appear in CTET 2019.

 

The petitioners told the apex court that CBSE published an advertisement on January 23, 2019 for conducting CTET in which benefit of ten per cent reservation has not been given to candidates belonging to economically weaker sections of society.

HC directs Maha govt to check if schools, colleges provide barrier-free access to disabled students

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra government and the Directorate of Education to call for compliance reports from all educational institutes and universities in the state on facilities provided to disabled students.
In an order passed earlier this week, a bench of Justices Naresh Patil and G S Kulkarni said the state must inform the court whether or not all educational institutes across Maharashtra were providing barrier-free access in their buildings to disabled students and staff members.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Pune resident Akanksha Kale.
In her plea filed through advocate Satyavrat Joshi, Kale sought that all educational institutes provide barrier-free access and other facilities to disabled students and staff, as mandated in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act.

Kale, who is confined to a wheelchair, had first approached the high court in 2016 against a Pune college after she was unable to attend classes and appear for her exams as the institute did not have disabled-friendly infrastructure.

At that time, another bench of the high court had passed necessary directions to the college concerned, and also directed the state to ensure that all schools and colleges extend appropriate facilities to the disabled.

However, Kale approached the high court again earlier this year, saying that despite provisions of the act and the high court order, not all educational institutes had complied with the requirements.

The Mumbai University’s counsel, advocate Rui Rodrigues, informed the court that there already existed statutory rules mandating that professional colleges, such as medical and engineering institutes, provide barrier-free environment in their buildings.
The professional institutes that did not comply were denied completion and occupation certificates for their buildings, Rodrigues said.
The high court, however, observed that such a requirement must be made mandatory for all educational institutes and not just those providing professional courses.

“The state and the Directorate of Education shall issue instructions to all universities to call for compliance report from all the educational institutions,” the bench said.
“In case any institute already has the occupation certificate but does not provide the mandatory facilities, then the authorities should take necessary steps for creating basic facilities such as ramps, washrooms and barrier-free access for handicapped people in such buildings,” it said.
The high court has sought a report from the state on the compliance reports from educational institutes by August 2.

 

Medical admissions; HC upholds Maha state eligibility rules

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today upheld the Maharashtra government’s state quota eligibility rules-2018 for admissions to medical colleges under the state quota.

The rules were mentioned in an information brochure by the state’s admission cell for 2018 medical admissions.

A bench of Justices SC Dharamadhikari and Bharati Dangre refused to interfere with the state’s rules that mandate that an applicant seeking admissions to one of the 31 private and government medical colleges across the state under the state quota must possess a domicile of Maharashtra.

In addition, these rules also lay down that such an applicant must have passed his/her class X and XII exams from a school in the state.
Those who meet the above criteria can avail of the 85 per cent reservation under the state quota in medical colleges across Maharashtra.
This rule, however, had been challenged through a bunch of petitions filed by aspiring medical students from across the state.
The petitioners had argued that since they possessed a domicile of Maharashtra, though they had not passed their class X or XII exams from the state, they must still be granted admissions under the state quota.

The state Directorate of Medical Education and Research, however, had defended the rules before the court.

Appearing for the state, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had told the bench that the state quota rules had been made to promote local talent in the field of medicine and public health.

The bench also noted that two previous judgements of Bombay HC, and one of the Supreme Court, upheld Maharashtra’s state quota rules for medical admissions in the past.
The bench also dismissed the arguments of the petitioners that the classification on domicile and schooling imposed by the state was discriminatory.
The court held that the rules were not violative of Constitutional principles of equality since they were based on the rationale of promoting local talent, who in turn, were likely to “serve the state in the field of public health in the future.”
It also said that it could not “take a view different” from that taken by the previous HC and SC judgements since those judgements had weighed all aspects of the law thoroughly.
The bench, however, also reprimanded the state government for lack of coordination among its various departments.
It noted that earlier this year, while the Nagpur bench of Bombay HC was hearing similar petitions, the state government had decided not to oppose the students.
Though, later, the state had changed its stand and said that it was going to challenge the Nagpur bench’s order granting relief to some students.

“We hope that in the future the concerned departments will have more coordination. The student community must not suffer because of lack of coordination between various departments of the state,” the bench said.

HC denies appointment of four asst profs in AMU

Allahabad: The Allahabad High Court today quashed the appointment of four assistant professors in Aligarh Muslim University, terming the process as “wholly illegal” and ordered the university authorities to proceed for fresh selection process for the posts as per the law.

The bench of justices Sudhir Agarwal and I A Khan quashed the appointments in the Department of Statistics and Operation Research (DSOR) on a plea by Dr Kamal Ullah, a former guest lecturer in the department, challenging the recruitment.

Dr Ullah had challenged the appointments contending that the four – Dr Irfan Ali, Dr Shakeel Javed, Dr Jaki Anwar and Dr Mohd Faizan were appointed as assistant professors in DSOR despite having applied for the higher post of associate professors and having been interviewed for the same.

The petitioner pointed out that the AMU had advertised several posts of professor, associate professor and assistant professor on November 8, 2013 and the four had applied for the posts of associate professor and had even faced the interview for the same.

Yet the university authorities wrongly appointed them on the posts of assistant professor, Dr Ullah contended.
While quashing their appointment as assistant professors, the bench termed them as “wholly illegal” saying they had neither applied for the said posts nor they faced the interview for the same.
Additionally, the selection committee had no power to downgrade the posts and appoint the candidates on the lower posts of assistant professor in place of associate professor.

SC to medical college: Pay Rs 20L penalty to each of 19 students for denying admission

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has directed a Maharashtra-based medical college to pay Rs 20 lakh as penalty to each of the 19 meritorious students who were “illegally” and “wrongly” denied admission by it six years ago.
The apex court asked the college to deposit the money in three months with the Pravesh Niyantran Samiti (PNS), a body constituted by the state government to oversee and regulate admissions in medical colleges.
The 19 students were “illegally” and “wrongly” denied admissions to MBBS and BDS courses in the 2012-13 academic year.

A bench of justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit spared the Dr. Ulhas Patil Medical College and Hospital, Jalgaon, in Maharashtra from de-recognition and set aside the direction of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court as the institution agreed to pay the penalty to the students.

“As the college has shown the gesture of making payment of penalty to the 19 students, who were deprived of admission, considering the fact that several years have passed and a large number of students have passed out and are undertaking instructions in the college, it would not be appropriate in the facts of the case that once monetary penalty has been imposed to withdraw the recognition… And to dis-affiliate the appellant college,” the bench said.