The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Centre calls for joint medical entrance exam

New Delhi, July 24: The Centre today sought the Supreme Court’s permission to conduct a combined all-India entrance examination for all categories of students in both government and private professional colleges, including medical and dental.

The suggestion came in the 24-page written submission additional solicitor-general R.. Trivedi made to the five judge Constitution bench, led by Chief Justice of India V.. Khare.

Officials of the Union health ministry are, in fact, pushing for a centralised exam for medical and dental colleges. This, they say, will not only improve the quality of medical education but also end students’ and parents’ harassment.

“At present, the system is dispersed. States are holding their own examinations. Students and parents have to run from one place to the other. The dates of examinations often clash. It is a harassing procedure for students,” a senior ministry official said.

A centralised system will provide a common merit list so that “students can then choose a college of their choice”.

“They can have counselling to help them make a choice. The system will give the Centre better control,” the official said.

Better still, there will be no separate exam fees, the official said.

The Centre’s plea hints at ending the confusion, every academic year, and legal battles over admissions to professional colleges that are often fought till the apex court.

As a result, the submission indicates, professional colleges routinely start their sessions behind schedule, hurting academic standards.

So the Centre suggested it “is willing to conduct, through a suitable agency, a combined all India examination for selection of candidates for admission to various government and private colleges in different states”.

“With the permission of this court”, the Centre said it would conduct a combined common entrance test (CCET) to “management quota, all-India quota and NRI quota”.

The plea was made before the five-judge bench that will interpret an 11-judge bench’s ruling that unaided minority education institutions were free to admit students, subject to central regulation and states’ prescription of minimum eligibility criteria to maintain “academic excellence”.

The Centre and the states interpreted the judgement as giving them the right to have a say in the affairs of such institutions.

The institutions had opposed the interpretation, contending that governments could prescribe minimum eligibility criteria for teachers and students but not interfere with admissions and administration.

“Once the minimum qualification is fixed, the state will have no other role,” the institutions had said.

Attorney-general Soli Sorabjee gave his views in his capacity as attorney and not on the government’s behalf. The apex court had earlier invited him to assist it in the matter.

Sorabjee said minority institutions should be allowed to “reserve at least 50 per cent” of seats for students belonging to their respective communities –- that is religious and linguistic minorities.

Various states have also explained their views before the court, which today stayed a Maharashtra legislation freezing its all-India quota.

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