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In an important development, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India has allowed the petitions seeking review of the 2013 judgment of the three-judge bench of the court which had ruled that the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) notifications for holding common entrance tests for MBBS, BDS and post-graduate medical courses were invalid. Court has now directed for a fresh hearing in the matter.
On 18 July 2013, by a majority of 2:1, court had held that the Medical Council of India was not empowered under the Indian Medical Councils Act, 1956 to conduct the NEET and had quashed the relevant notifications and regulations. Dissenting from the majority view of then Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir and Justice Vikramjit Sen; Justice Anil R Dave had held that the “impugned notifications were are not only legal in the eyes of law but were also a boon to the students aspiring to join medical profession.”
The 2013 judgment was passed after 115 petitions were filed before the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts (which were later transferred to the Supreme Court). Majority view had held the notifications to be in violation of Articles 19(1)(g), 25, 26, 29(1) and 30 of the Constitution of India.
After the judgment was passed, several review petitions, including those by Medical Council of India, were filed before the Supreme Court of India. On 22 October 2013, a bench presided over by Justices HL Dattu (as he was then), Anil R Dave and Vikramjit Sen, issued a notice in the review petitions. Bench had ordered:
Application for oral hearing is granted.
Thereafter on 21 January 2016, a bench comprising of Justices Anil R Dave, C Nagappan and Adarsh Kumar Goel, ordered:
We are further told that Civil Appeal No.4060 of 2009, involving similar issue is already pending before a larger Bench and therefore, we direct the Registry to place the papers before the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India so that all the matters can be heard by one particular Bench at the earliest so that admissions for the ensuing academic session can be governed by the order that may be passed by this Court.
Pronouncing the order today, the five-judge bench held:
After giving our thoughtful and due consideration, we are of the view that the judgment delivered in Christian Medical College (supra) needs reconsideration. We do not propose to state reasons in detail at this stage so as to see that it may not prejudicially affect the hearing of the matters. For this purpose we have kept in mind the following observations appearing in the Constitution Bench judgment of this Court in Sheonandan Paswan…
The five-judge bench, presided over by Justice Dave, who had dissented with the majority view in the 2013 judgment, further held:
Suffice it is to mention that the majority view has not taken into consideration some binding precedents and more particularly, we find that there was no discussion among the members of the Bench before pronouncement of the judgment.
Finally, allowing the review petitions, court ordered:
We, therefore, allow these review petitions and recall the judgment dated 18th July, 2013 and direct that the matters be heard afresh. The review petitions stand disposed of as allowed.