Christian medical college Vellore association v. Union of India and others

The following topic needs no proper introduction because it is the most controversial topic for educational institutions, be it for minorities or everybody or be it a government-funded or a private one.
Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Introduction 

The Covid-19 affected the Court’s proceedings, but it still managed to summon up and gather to provide sheer justice to citizens. Fundamental rights are those rights that are necessary for the physiological, ethical and spiritual evolution of the citizens of India. As these rights are elemental or necessary for the presence and all-round evolution of individuals, they are called Fundamental rights. These are enshrined in Part III (Articles 12 to 35) of the Constitution of India. The establishment of institutions for minorities is present because of harassment they used to face and this is an opportunity they get to recognize themselves and make their communties name and respect they deserve. Often we see how minorities are treated and to make their community respectful the concept of reservation came and is still present and will continue to remain so to make the upper caste treat minorities with equal respect and give them opportunities. 

There are various types of minorities in our Country, and their rights are protected under Article 29 and 30. Under Article 30[1], the Constitution ensures acts for minority communities to make and manage educational institutions and safeguard themselves from discrimination of assisting by the government. At the same time, Article 29 (1)[2] gives any citizen the right to save a language that is becoming extinct or any script or culture of its own. While Article 29(2) also safeguards them, it is more for every citizen and is not incredibly organized for minority groups. Minority educational institutions do not have the requirement to keep up the reservation in their job or affirmations for S.C.s, STs, and O.B.C.s as required by other educational institutions. It is an absolute right of the minority community to protect their language and culture through educational institutions. It cannot be made to any rational limitations in the general public’s view, only in some instances of national interest, morality, and other few reasons they can’t be invoked. The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI)[3] was formed to safeguard and defend the educational institutions formed by the religious minorities in India.

Through this case of Christian Medical College Vellore Association v. Union of India [4], the Supreme Court tried to establish a precedent that minority rights are protected under the Constitution but not at the cost of national interest. National Interest is one of the reasons above which the fundamental rights do not exist at all. 

Factual Background

It all started when four notices were issued to the Petitioner at two different periods, 2 of them being sent on December 21st, 2010 by the Medical Council of India (MCI), while the other two were sent on May 31st, 2012 by the Dental Council of India (DCI). These two notices were the main points of concern before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Law. The reality of the four notices mentioned above was summoned before the Hon’ble Court for being violative of the liberty of the minority educational institutions, be it an aided institution or non-aided one. The MCI gave notice to the Petitioner using its power under the Medical Council Act. The contentions that were made regarding the Graduate Medical Education, 1997 (Regulation) for selection of applicants in the course Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Science (MBBS) for the undergraduates and a Postgraduate (P.G.) course. While DCI gave the notices and also provided the system for selecting candidates in both the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (B.D.S.) and Master of Dental Surgery (M.D.S.).

Due to this, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to the MBBS course for selecting candidates in the MBBS Course and Postgraduate Course and as well introduction of BDS AND MDS Course. The relevant amendment by way of Section 10D under the Act came into effect on[5] May 24th 2016, for the standard test for MBBS and P.G. courses. Section 10D of the Dentist Act, 1948 (Dentist Act), containing similar [6] provisions for the standard entrance test, was also inserted concerning the ordinary course for B.D.S. and M.D.S.

The concern raised by the Petitioner was regarding the power of MCI AND DCI to conduct the NEET exam. According to him, it violates Article 19(1)(g)[7] of the Indian Constitution and religious and linguistic minorities’ rights to establish and administration of educational institutions of their choice as mentioned under Article 30 of the Indian Constitution.

Subsequently, besides the other joined concerns, the current matter was filed for consideration before the Supreme Court.

Issue for consideration before the supreme court 

The Supreme Court went through the facts of the case. It determined the issue by giving centralized examination procedure for – NEET for selection of ideal candidates in the courses MBBS, P.G., B.D.S. and M.D.S. By virtue of the rules made in the Act and Regulation, there was an infringement of fundamental rights provided under Articles 19(1)(g), 25[8], 26[9], 29(1) and 30 of the Constitution of India. 

Main arguments raised by the Petitioner 

The arguments pleaded by the Petitioner challenged the notices infringing the fundamental rights of an unaided minority institution to form and manage educational institutions of their own choice. It is to be safeguarded under Article 30, which is to be read with Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution, thereby also protecting the right to admit students based on their own choice. The Petitioner further pleaded on behalf of the C.M.C. Vellore that the government has no authority to pressurize an unaided minority institution to select candidates through only one type of centralized assessment such as NEET. The unaided minority white-collar institutions have the fundamental rights to select the procedure and approach to select, manage its students, and manage their admissions, subject to fulfilling the trio check of having a fair, transparent, and unequal process. 

Finally, the Petitioner also contended that even though the State, while imposing reasonable restrictions, can connect the threshold benchmark of marks scored, it cannot limit the Petitioner’s from having any additional merit criteria over and above the restriction chosen by the State. As a result, such a restriction violates the test of proportionality. The Petitioner demanded the Act to be struck down, and the procedure should continue as it was before this Act.

Main arguments raised by the Respondents 

The Respondent in the given case denied all the accusations of whom the State was being accused of and contended that the Rule 10 (D) of the provision mentioned above stated in the Act which contributed that the nominated authority shall manage a consistent and unvarying entrance. Subsequently, the launching of NEET is constitutionally valid.

The Notices that have been challenged in the Court of law. The critical concern raised was the change made to Section 10D as established in the above-mentioned Act and Provision as amended by the MCI and similar rules mentioned in the Dentist Act. It cannot be said to be snatched away from the rights of the unaided minority institutions or private institutions. It allowed the candidate’s admission in any manner as it is entitled to ensure the regulation of the conduct code at the national level. 

The Legislation should not be stopped from making rules and laws that are in the national interest.

Summary of Judgment 

The Supreme Court heard the arguments from both sides, i.e., from the College’s side as well from the side of the State. They, after listening, dismissed the petition filed by the College and further held that the administrative measures under the above-mentioned Act and the rule cannot be said to be against the interest of such colleges, and such rational methods can be sliced out. Apart from this, these administrative rules do not violate any rights institutions protected under Articles 14, 19(1)(g), 25 and 30 mentioned under the Constitution of India.

The rules are that such professional universities’ rational circumstances are irrevocable for the very presence of all such colleges, whether they are managed by majority or minority institutions that they cannot be present and provide education. The situations are rational and cannot be alluring away any of the fundamental rights of minority institutions.

The constant and uninformative entrance examination cannot be an unreasonable rule of the government’s administration, by seeing the current terms and conditions for admission and recognizing the candidates for an expert in medical and such other professional courses where they are enforceable. No such freedom is permitted in the conditions.

The Constitution ensures a reasonable restriction on the State’s powers to intervene with people’s life, liberty, and rights. However, the notion of limited government cannot be raised to an extent when it beats the national interest. The administrative rules created by the MCI or the Dentist Act are associated with the scenarios, connecting and recognition, and conducting the central examination in the form of NEET cannot be said to infringe the rights mentioned under Articles 19(1)(g) and 30 of the Constitution.

The fundamental rights provided under Articles 19(1)(g) and 30 presented with Articles 25, 26 and 29(1) of the Indian Constitution do not attain in the way of saving the apparent law and recognition of marks in the concern of admissions. It is open for the State to handle the course of study, conditions for making educational standards and imposing reasonable restrictions on national and public interest.

In St. Stephen’s College v. University of Delhi [10], it was stated that there has to be a fascinating assessment of the rights of minorities. College Administrates saw that 50% of the yearly selection has to be given to the members of other communities which are not the minority community on the grounds of merit. The Provisions that serve the interest in education standards amongst the recognized institutions could be made without a reasonable excuse.

Consequently, it was stated that there is no infringement of the fundamental rights of the unaided/aided Minority to regulate institutions under Articles 19(1)(g) and 30 read with Articles 25, 26 and 29(1) of the Constitution. But by prescribing the uniformity in the assessment of NEET for selecting candidates in the graduate and postgraduate professional courses of medical and dental science. The rules of the Act and Provision cannot be said to be ultra vires or taking away the rights mentioned under the Constitution under Article 30(1) read with Articles 19(1)(g), 14, 25, 26 and 29(1). 

The judgment held by the Supreme Court puts an end to the unpredictability that had crept up on the issue mentioned above, stating that the rights under Article 19(1)(g) are not absolute and subject to rational limitations in the interest of the candidates to promote marks, recognition of education, and to curb the malpractices. The rights of religious minorities under Article 30 of the Constitution also have been stated to be not in conflict with other parts of the Constitution as equity in the rights is the national interest. 

Analysis of the Judgment 

Through the Judgment of this case, C.M.C. v. Government of India, the Court has declared that national interest prevails over fundamental rights to establish Minority Educational Institutions. In this crucial judgment, the Supreme court held that the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance-Test (NEET) would be put into the private unaided minority colleges to select candidates into MBBS, MD, B.D.S. and M.D.S. courses. Also, the Court repeated the principles protecting the minority educational institutions under Article 30 of India’s Constitution. It said there is no violation of fundamental rights.

In a one hundred and eight lengthy Judgment, the Court kept specific points that the petitioners contended while arguing. According to the Petitioner, the NEET notice violated the fundamental rights of the unaided minority institution, which the Constitution of India protects under Article 30. To answer this question, the bench referred to an eleven Judge bench decision in T.M.A Pai Foundation[11]. The judgment noted that the right to form and manage minority institutions protected under Article 30(1). This cannot be used to overrule the national interest or prevent the government from making provisions in that context. Any law made keeping in mind the national interest must practically be applied to all educational institutions, whether managed by the Minority. 

The Judgment showed us a clear path that the fundamental rights of Minorities are fundamental. Still, when it comes to national interest, they cannot invoke these fundamental rights. The Court also said minority institutions are prominently obligated to use situations obtuse under the necessary Acts and Rules to enjoy affiliation and acknowledgement.

Conclusion 

The Medical Council of India, Dental Council of India [12] and the Central Government, have followed up the systematic admission procedure in Medical Colleges in our Country. They decide to come through a breakthrough by Conducting Entrance Examinations across all countries, even in minority educational institutions. As we see, NEET is an exam where it will ease students’ wishes who aspire to connect with the profession of Medical Science. This wish will become easy because the candidates will have to present only at that one examination and based on the NEET result. From the result of this exam, if the candidate is found suitable, he would be able to select anywhere in the Country. The candidate will get an opportunity to have medical education if he is disposed to go to a different place. This system will ensure every citizen’s reasonable opportunity and does not violate any provision mentioned in the Constitution. It is done to benefit the public interest where all individuals will have equal opportunity to access aided and unaided medical Colleges.

With the Supreme Court declaring that through NEET, it intends to remove evils from the system, it is clear that even the Supreme Court of the frauds happening in Medical Colleges. We strictly needed such a kind of Judgement that will set a benchmark for all other fields courses to get the opportunity for everyone. The Supreme Court declared that various malpractices are putting the system in a terrible form, and with our Judgement and the rules set, it might be possible that we clear off the dirt from the system. Also, it cannot be said that NEET infringed the right to manage educational institutions by religious and linguistic minority groups. 


[1] The Constitution Of India, 1949, Article 30.

[2] The Constitution Of India, 1949, Article 29 (1).

[3] Gautam Mukherjee, Minority Educational Institutions: The UPA’s Unconstitutional Law, 12th May, 2015, https://swarajyamag.com/politics/minority-educational-institutions-the-upas-unconsutitional-law. 

[4] Christian Medical College Vellore Association v. Union of India, (2020) 2 SCC 392.

[5] Dr. Preethiswary S vs Dr.G.Kamaleshwaran, W.A.No.453 of 2017

[6] The Dentist Act, 1948, s. 10D.

[7] The Constitution Of India, 1949, Article 19(1)(g).

[8] The Constitution Of India, 1949, Article 25.

[9] The Constitution Of India, 1949, Article 26.

[10] St. Stephen’s College v. University of Delhi, Writ Petition (civil) 1868 of 1980.

[11] T.M.A.Pai Foundation & Ors vs State Of Karnataka & Ors, Writ Petition (civil)  317 of 1993. 

[12] Diksha Nautiyal, Dental College of India(DCI): Goals, Functions and approved colleges, 21st January, 2020, https://www.collegedekho.com/articles/dental-council-of-india-role-in-dental-education/.

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