NEET 2018 Counselling: Why it has been stayed and what could happen
Somesh S Menon, 17 Jul 2018, #NEET

NEET 2018 is now facing a new controversy after the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) put a halt to the counselling process, hours after the Supreme Court dismissed a Madras High Court order which had earlier stayed the process. The reasons for the NEET counselling process being stayed by the Bombay High Court are currently unclear, but as per notices on the MCC website, the issues revolve around OBC reservations and ESIC seats. As per the latest update on the MCC website, dated July 20, "Counselling is kept in abeyance as per directions of Hon'ble High Court of Bombay Nagpur Bench in W.P. 3885/2018 and PIL No.87/2018". It is expected that the cases will soon be resolved and NEET 2018 counselling will continue as normal after July 26, the dates on which the Bombay HC will hold its next hearing.

LATEST: NEET 2018 counselling stayed once again on July 20 due to Bombay HC (Nagpur Bench) orders! Click here for details!

The counselling process had previously been stayed after the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) issued a notice dated July 12, 2018, on its official website. That is the same date on which the NEET second round counselling result was to be declared. As per the notice, the NEET 2nd round result, as well as further counselling processes were to be kept in abeyance until further orders are issued. Similar notices had been issued on the Tamil Nadu, Punjab and other state counselling websites. Numerous candidates were left wondering on why the NEET counselling process has been stayed and when it will resume again. Even after the Supreme Court had overturned the Madras HC verdict and candidates were eagerly awaiting the declaration of results, the unexpected Bombay HC order has put another dampener on their expectations.

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LATEST UPDATE AS OF JULY 20, 2018 (BOMBAY HC ORDER)

With candidates eagerly awaiting the declaration of NEET 2nd counselling result and the continuation of all state-wise NEET counselling processes following the Supreme Court, the unexpected Bombay HC (Nagpur Bench) order has come as a bolt from the blue. While the details are still unclear, the cases that are currently being heard in the Bombay HC under Writ Petition 3885/2018 and Public Interest Litigation 87/2018 are around ESIC seat admissions and OBC reservations. They will be next heard on July 26 and only after that will a final resolution be known. It is expected that the CBSE will now wait for the next Bombay High Court order with regard to these cases and if the same doesn't come into fruition, another approach to the Supreme Court may be on the cards.

 

For the complete details on the NEET counselling stay due to Bombay HC orders, Click Here

 

Check the notice issued by MCC with regard to Bombay High Court stay on NEET counselling in Writ Petition 3885/2018 (related to ESIC seats) below -

 

 

Check the notice issued by MCC with regard to Bombay High Court stay on NEET counselling in Public Interest Litigation (PIL) No. 87/2018 (related to OBC reservations) below -

 

Previous Update as of JULY 20, 2018

The Supreme Court of India stayed the Madras High Court order on July 20, 2018, before another stay order passed by the Bombay High Court came into force only hours later. The SC order meant that the round two counselling result of NEET 2018 was to be declared shortly by the MCC. Also, the various state counselling processes which had been stayed due to the order were also to be resumed. The next hearing on NEET counselling 2018 was to be held after two weeks as per the court. However, candidates who are now visiting the official MCC website to keep track of the result of NEET round 2 counselling are now faced with news of the Bombay HC order.

 

To read more details about the Supreme Court stay order, Click here

 

 

Background on Madras HC issue

NEET 2018 was conducted by the CBSE on May 6 and the result was declared on June 4. More than 12 lakh candidates appeared for the exam and approximately 7.14 lakh candidates qualified. The Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) commenced with the first round of counselling on June 13, followed soon after by all the states. The first round of counselling was concluded on June 23 and more than 12,000 candidates were allotted MBBS and BDS seats across various Government colleges and Deemed and Central Universities. The NEET 2018 2nd counselling was commenced on July 6 and the result was expected on July 12.

 

However, on July 10, 2018, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court ordered that 24,720 candidates who appeared for the exam in Tamil be awarded 196 grace marks each. The Court ordered the CBSE to produce a fresh merit list within two weeks.

 

The counselling process was subsequently stayed at the Centre as well as in most states, leaving candidates who have been allotted seats or were expecting to be allotted seats worried about their admission status.

 

Watch Video on NEET Counselling 2018 stayed - What will happen now?

 

 

Check below the counselling stay order displayed on the MCC website from July 12, 2018 onwards -

 

Tamil Nadu temporarily cancelled its counselling for Management Quota seats, scheduled to be conducted on July 16, 17 and 18. Check the notice displayed on the TN counselling website below -

 

Punjab had declared its first round counselling results as provisional depending on the final outcome of the Madras High Court verdict. Check the notice below -

 

 

Reasons behind the Madras HC verdict

NEET was conducted in a record 11 languages this year, with Tamil being one of the languages. Soon after the exam was conducted, candidates who appeared for the Tamil paper complained about there being multiple mistakes in the questions. Naturally, many of them were not able to understand the questions and entered wrong answers. This issue was brought to light by a NGO called Tech4all which said that as many as 49 questions in the Tamil version of the paper contained errors. A writ petition was filed in this regard before the Madurai Bench of the Madras HC by senior CPI(M) MP TK Rangarajan.

 

A total of 1,07,288 candidates appeared for NEET from Tamil Nadu. Out of these, 24,720 candidates appeared for the paper in Tamil. Given that each question in NEET is worth 4 marks, the petition demanded that each of these 24,720 candidates be awarded 196 marks as compensation for the 49 erroneous questions.

 

The Madras High Court agreed with this demand, and passed its order asking the CBSE to award 196 marks to each of the 24,720 affected students and issue a fresh merit list. As per the court, until the fresh merit list is released, the counselling sessions would be kept in abeyance.

 

To read the order passed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court temporarily halting the NEET counselling 2018 process, Click Here

 

Given tha the required cutoff marks for qualifying NEET this year was 119 marks for the General Category and 96 marks for the reserved categories, awarding 24,720 candidates with 196 marks meant that all of these candidates would be eligible for MBBS and BDS admissions. It also meant that the entire counselling process that had been conducted thus far, that is at Central and State level, including the NEET counselling for government and private colleges, would be scrapped and conducted afresh.

 

This was not the first controversy to hit NEET, especially in the context of Tamil Nadu. The state has been a vociferous opponent of the exam ever since its inception. Even last year, the state tried all it could to gain an exemption and continue the practise of admitting students on the basis of Class 12 marks, but failed. This year again, there was a major controversy when students from Tamil Nadu were allotted exam centres outside their state.

 

Case reaches Supreme Court

Unsurprisingly, the CBSE filed an appeal against the Madras High Court verdict before the Supreme Court on July 16. Infact, a candidate from Chennai itself who had been allotted a seat at Chengalpattu Medical College after Tamil Nadu concluded its round one counselling for Government colleges between July 1 and July 7, had also approached the Court on July 14, worried that he will lose his seat.

 

It was expected that the CBSE will argue on the basis that it had already mentioned in the NEET bulletin that “In case of any ambiguity in translation of any of the questions, its English version shall be treated as final.”

 

As per media reports, the Supreme Court was supposed to hear both of these cases this week, on or after Wednesday, July 18. Now finally on July 20, the Supreme Court has overturned the Madras High Court verdict and allowed for NEET counselling round two and other state counselling processes to continue as normal.

 

Predicted Outcomes (as of July 17, 2018)

[Update as of July 20 - As predicted by Careers360, the Supreme Court stayed the Madras High Court verdict on July 20 and the counselling for NEET 2018 was scheduled to continue as before. The allotments which had been made so far to MBBS and BDS seats across various states in medical and dental colleges were to stay. Candidates worried about their admissions status were eagerly waiting the result of NEET second counselling after the Supreme Court interim order but a case in the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) has now stayed the counselling process once again.]

 

In previous cases, the Supreme Court had always looked at the interests of the majority while passing its verdict. In 2017, the Madras High Court had issued a stay on the result of NEET after many candidates complained about the regional language papers being different to the english paper. The Supreme Court had overturned the verdict in favour of the CBSE and the result was declared after a considerable delay.

 

This year too, the Supreme Court is likely to rule in favour of the CBSE and allow the counselling process to continue. This is because the publication of a new merit list and restarting the counselling process will considerably delay the admissions process for this year and affect the chances of thousands of students. It will also make the CBSE open to further litigation from candidates who will lose their allotted seats and could send the entire process into utter disarray.

 

The Supreme Court is likely to keep all of these factors in mind before passing its final verdict. Interestingly, the case is expected to be heard by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, who is the same judge who heard the NEET cases last year as well. While it is not possible to say how this case will proceed, the likelihood is that the NEET 2018 counselling process will be allowed to continue without disruption.

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