The Delhi High Court on Tuesday declined to allow two Ayurveda course applicants with low NEET percentiles to participate in the Ayurveda degree admissions counselling process. The court denied their request for temporary relief, finding that it was unjust to subject them to the same entrance exams for admission to the MBBS programme. The goal of a common entrance, according to a court led by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi, was to “raise the standard,” and their case was based on the idea that the courses in the Indian system of medicine were inferior to those in modern medicine.
The bench, which also included Justice Navin Chawla, issued notice to the central government, the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine, the National Testing Agency, and other respondents on the petition, which challenges the law and regulation mandating a common National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission in Ayurveda courses, and asked the concerned authority to disclose the number of seats available in the various Indian system of medicine courses.
“The whole objective is to raise the standard. You want incompetent people to get into these institutions and therefore kill this branch completely. When it comes to seeking rights while in service you say we are equally qualified doctors,” the court said. “We are not inclined to give (favourable) interim order,” it stated.
The petitioners, represented by lawyer Animesh Kumar, argued that there should be a separate entrance examination for aspirants of the Indian system of medicine, and that a large number of seats in such courses currently go vacant after aspirants fail to meet the cut-off percentile, which is decided based on relative merit.
He urged the court to either allow the petitioners to participate in the counselling process as an interim measure or direct the authorities to prepare a separate merit list of the candidates willing to take admissions in Ayurveda courses. “That is the exact point. All these judgements (of the Supreme Court) are saying they are not to be distinguished. They are equally doctors. The point that you are trying to make is creating a class between the two…,” said the court.
The court noted that the minimal requirement for admission to undergraduate MBBS and Indian medicine is the same, i.e. 10+2, and that the applicable laws do not appear to require the holding of separate entrance exams for the two streams of medicine. “The submissions of the petitioner precede of the assumption that the Indian system courses are inferior to the MBBS course,” the court said Counsel for the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine stated that Indian medicine courses are “not inferior” because they also “treat human lives” and study comparable subjects during the course, and Ayurvedic practitioners are even allowed to do certain procedures.
The court was informed that admission to both the AYUSH and MBBS programmes is based on relative merit, with “enough seats” being filled in the courses based on a qualifying percentile that is decreased to a certain degree to replace vacant seats. The cut-off percentile of fifty has already been dropped by five in this situation, and it was added. The petitioners have challenged the legality, propriety, and validity of Section 14 of the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Act, 2020, Indian medicine Central Council (Minimum Standards of Education in Indian Medicine) Amendment Regulation, 2018, and Information Bulletin NEET (UG)-2021 insofar as the same mandates a common NEET for taking admission in Ayurveda in medical institutions governed by the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine.
“By notifying a common NEET examination for MBBS/BDS as well as AYUSH courses, the Respondents have completely overlooked the pivotal fact that both these courses operate in different fields and there are fundamental differences between the framework of both the courses,” the petition has said. The matter would be heard next on July 19.