The Supreme Court was moved on Thursday, challenging the NEET ordinance exempting Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab for this year from the ambit of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical colleges.
The PIL, moved by Anand Rai, the whistle-blower in Madhya Pradesh's Vyapam admission and recruitment scam and on whose petition the apex court had ordered CBI probe in the scam, said the ordinance has been promulgated "with the sole intention of upsetting the orders" to the top court, shows the government's "ill intent" and was discriminatory as students - other than those in the exempted states - will have to appear in NEET.
In his new petition, Rai has challenged the NEET ordinance which was signed by President Pranab Mukherjee on May 24, contending that the ordinance was contrary to the stand taken by the central government before the top court wherein it had said that it "favoured unified, standardised medical entrance exam for the whole of India".
Speaking to IANS, Vaibhav Srivastava, advocate for Rai, said that petition says that "lakhs of students are confused as to what will happen after the promulgation of ordinance as the state governments have been given a choice to conduct their own medical entrance examinations for the seats in the government medical colleges as well as for the government quota seats in private medical colleges".
He said that PIL notes that the ordinance is "in direct conflict" with the stand taken by the government in the case of NEET as they were "eager to conduct unified, standardised medical entrance examination for the whole of India" and sought to know the reasons for the change.
"What is the compulsion, why the U-turn," asked Srivastava.
Seeking a direction to quash the ordinance, Rai has contended the "ordinance making power is not invoked lightly but only when absolutely necessary to do so" and while urging the court to ask the government not to go ahead with its enforcing, his petition recounted the sequence of events on April 27 and 28 when the government, recognising the NEET's need, had itself given its schedule.
Referring to constitution's Article 14 guaranteeing equality before the law, the PIL says that the ordinance makes exception for the states having their own separate mechanism for entrance examination for admission to undergraduate medical courses and is "unfair and arbitrary to lakhs and thousands of students in other states who do have to give the common entrance test (NEET)".
It cited the apex court's April 28 order on holding on NEET after the government and others' submissions, it said the issuance of the ordinance was completely in contradiction to the stand taken by the government then.
Srivastava said that the PIL is likely to be mentioned on Friday before the vacation bench of Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice D.Y.Chandrachud for an early hearing but if it does not happen, then it would certainly be mentioned on Monday.
President Mukherjee had signed the ordinance on May 24 after seeking clarifications from the government including legal opinion from legal luminaries and government's senior law officer.
The NEET ordinance permitted these seven states to enrol students in undergraduate medical courses on basis of exams they conduct, after the apex court on May 9 refused to modify its April 28 order making NEET mandatory for admission to such courses across the country for academic year 2016-2017.
Meanwhile, Gujarat-based student Jugal Nikhil Shah filed a caveat seeking to be heard in the event of any challenge to the NEET ordinance.