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Don’t stifle right to education, SC to states
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 19
The Supreme Court today rapped state governments for changing the rules and procedures for admission to professional colleges as per their suitability and warned them against ‘stifling’ of the right to education.

The strongly worded word of caution came from Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, heading a three-judge Bench, while hearing an appeal by eight students from Tamil Nadu. These students were deprived of the chance to sit for the counselling for admission to government medical colleges at the last moment though they had figured in the merit list.

“Everybody has a right to get admission in a government college. How can this right be denied as the disparity in fee in government and private colleges, particularly in medical courses, is huge,” the CJI asked.

“Don’t stretch the provisions of the Constitution too far to deny right to citizen. By doing this, you will be stifling education,” an exasperated Justice Balakrishnan said.

Nearly 400 students who passed the Senior Secondary School Certificate (SSSC) board exams last year and became eligible for admission to the MBBS and BDC courses in 2007-08 session as per the new admission formula drawn this year, were prevented from participating in the first round of counselling at the last moment.

While accepting the appeal of the eight of students among the 400, the SC, in an interim order, directed the Tamil Nadu government to allow these students to participate in the second round of counselling starting from July 23.

Till last year, the state government had a provision of a Common Entrance Test (CET) for admission to government medical colleges. However, from this year, admission was allowed on the basis of merit list depending on the marks secured in the SSSC exams.

This prompted several last-year SSSC pass outs to apply for admission as they had become eligible as per the merit list drawn. The total number of last year’s students figuring in the merit was nearly 400.

However, the students passing the SSSC exam this year on the ground that it hampered their chances of admission challenged their move in the Madras High Court. The HC allowed the petition of fresh students amidst the counselling process after an undertaking by state’s Advocate General R Viduthalai that the previous year’s students would not be allowed to sit for the counselling.

Aggrieved by the HC order, the last year pass outs challenged this in an appeal to the SC, which was mentioned for urgent hearing today.

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