The Madras High Court on Friday upheld a recent Tamil Nadu law abolishing the common entrance test for admissions to professional courses in the state, paving the way for a new method of admissions based on marks secured in class XII examinations of various education boards.
Upholding the Tamil Nadu Admissions in Professional Educational Institutions Act 2006, a division ench, comprising Justice P K Misra and Justice J A K Sampathkumar, dismissed a batch of petitions challenging the Act.
Two earlier attempts to scrap the CET by the previous All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government were futile. The state legislature passed the bill in Decmeber last and the President gave his assent to the bill in March.
The judges observed that the impugned act was to prevent harassment and hardship to socially and economically backward and weaker students hailing from both urban and rural areas in securing admissions to professional colleges.
On the question of admission to the architectural course, the bench held that it stood on a different footing as it was not covered under the Act and hence the aptitude test for admissions will continue.
They pointed out that CET was devised as a basis of selection, primarily with a view to providing a common platform to ensure equality rather than any particular standard to be maintained.
Stating that holding of an aptitude test could not be said to be in derogation of the present selection method, the bench held that the present method devised by the state could co-exist with the aptitude test.
"Therefore, while upholding the validity of the statute we clarify that for admission to architectural courses the aptitude test as prescribed in the regulations has not been dispensed with," the judges said.
They observed that the Centre's stand appeared to be similar to that of the state government.
On behalf of the MCI and All India Council for Technical Education it was submitted that in view of the legislation, the petition ought to be dismissed.
State Advocate General Viduthalai submitted that once legislation was made by the state and received the President's assent 'such a law will be operative within such a state.'
In a separate but concurring order, Justice Misra said the bench was unable to conclude that the method envisaged for admissions was patently arbitrary and requiring the attention of the court.
The judge noted a submission by the Additional Advocate General N Kannadasan that there was always scope for change and improvement in future as the state government could examine the possibility of incorporating any other method in future by consulting experts in the field.
Justice Misra pointed out that the MCI regulations also authorised selection on the basis of qualifying marks.
'It is therefore reasonable to construe that such regulation owes its origin to entry 25 of the list three rather than entry 66 of list one.' Abolition of CET did not have the ipso facto affect of lowering the standard.
'The only effect is that selection is not based on a common platform and therefore vulnerable to be attacked based on the principle of equality,' he said, adding that the vulnerability had been overcome by equalisation.
The judge said that 'absolute equality is a myth even when CET is held because of the inherent possibility of ticking some answers more by guess as television programme KBC rather than by conscious selection of the right answer.'
The judge observed that section 5 of the Act had been incorporated with a view to equalising the marks obtained by different students passing from different streams.
In his concurring order, Justice Sampathkumar held that the rpt the impugned act was a social welfare legislation to meet social justice.
The Act could not be said to be arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution as claimed by the petitioner if it was brought to benefit socially and economically backward students, the judge said.
The desire of crores of people for abolishing CET could not be denied by quashing the Act, he said and dismissed the petition without costs.