Delhi High Court seeks Centre’s stand on plea challenging NEET for AYUSH courses

Delhi High Court. File (Source: THE HINDU)

The Delhi High Court on January 10 sought the Centre’s response on a petition by certain AYUSH aspirants challenging the common National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for taking admission to Ayurveda, Homoeopathy, Unani, Siddha and Sowa Rigpa courses.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice D. N. Patel issued notice to the Centre, the National Testing Agency and other respondents on the petition by six aspirants and remarked that it would hear the challenge alongside the petition by allopathic practitioners against the permission given to AYUSH practitioners to perform certain surgeries.

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“On a lighter side, you on one hand are saying you are competitive. But when asked to appear in NEET, you are saying we are not,” the Bench, also comprising Justice Jyoti Singh, told the counsel for the petitioner.

“AYUSH (practitioners) want to do operations and now they are saying we are different. See the double standard... Both matters will be heard together,” it added.

The lawyer appearing for the petitioners told the court that the petitioners were “not against NEET”.

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The Central government was represented by counsel Monika Arora who was asked by the court to provide details of the petition by allopathic practitioners.

The petitioners said that asking them to appear for NEET in order to pursue AYUSH courses in medical institutions governed by National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Act, 2020 and National Commission for Homoeopathy Act, 2020 is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

“NEET has been created by NMC Act which itself is applicable only to the Medical Institutions that grant degrees, diplomas or licenses in Modern Scientific medicine, which is different from Medical Institutions that grants degrees, diplomas or licenses in Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha or Homoeopathy Medicines,” their petition said.

It is asserted that the scope of NEET under the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 (NMC Act) is restricted to “Modern Scientific medicine” and does not include “traditional system of medicine”.

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“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 stated.

NEET is “not structured” to take into account the eligibility criteria for admission to AYUSH courses, it said. The matter would be heard next on March 30.

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