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Monday, June 27, 2005

Chennai High Court quashes TN entrance test order

CHENNAI, JUNE 27: The Madras High Court today quashed the Tamil Nadu Government’s June 9 order abolishing the Common Entrance Test (CET) for admissions to medical and engineering colleges, dubbing it ‘‘unconstitutional’’ and ‘‘illegal’’.

The order is a setback for the Jayalalithaa government which had hoped to score some brownie points in the run-up to next year’s Assembly elections.

The CM had done away with the entrance test earlier this month saying it worked against rural students. She said these students tend to do well in board examinations and are favourably placed when selection for professional courses is based solely on performance in such examinations.

Jayalalithaa’s order laid down that results of qualifying Class 12 examinations would be the sole basis for selection.

But a High Court division bench comprising Chief Justice Markandey Katju and Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla today said it was “illegal” to do away with entrance tests when there were several examining boards like the CBSE and state higher secondary board.

Allowing a batch of more than 400 writ petitions challenging the government order, the bench ruled that the order violated the selection criteria fixed in the regulations of the Medical Council of India and the All India Council for Technical Education for admissions to medical and engineering courses. It also violated Article 14 of the Constitution, the 56-page order said.

The state government had ‘‘totally abandoned and given a go by’’ to the method prescribed by the regulations which had statutory force, the bench said. The TN government order ‘‘encroached on a field already occupied by central regulations, and hence, it was illegal,’’ the judges added.

The bench said different examination bodies like the CBSE, ISC and state boards had differing syllabi, differing question papers and differing methods of assessment.

“The Common Entrance Test is mandatory as there will be discrimination between the students who appear in the examinations conducted by an examining body which is more stringent in giving marks and students appearing in qualifying examinations conducted by a more liberal examining body,’’ it added.

But the bench did not quash the part of the order relating to stopping improvement examinations. Noting that improvement examinations were ‘‘merely concessions’’ given to students, the judges said their withdrawal was not arbitrary. However, the exams will only be discontinued from next year.

With Jayalalithaa in Delhi to attend an NDC meeting, it is not known if her government will appeal against today’s order in the Supreme Court.


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