20 February 2020
Supreme Court


Case number: C.A. No.-000603-000603 / 2020
Diary number: 37098 / 2019





Civil Appeal No.603 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.26267 of 2019)

UNION OF INDIA .... Appellant(s)



…. Respondent (s) With

Civil Appeal No. 589 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 25464 of 2019)

W.P.(C) No. 1395 of 2019

W.P.(C) No. 1461 of 2019

Civil Appeal No.602 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.  29172 of 2019)

Civil Appeal No. 605 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.29792 of 2019)

Civil Appeal No.606 of 2020 (@ SLP (C) No.2493 of 2020 @ Diary No(s). 18 of 2020

Civil Appeal No. 607 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 29 of 2020)

Civil Appeal No.608 of 2020 (@ SLP (C) No.2494 of 2020 @ Diary No(s). 356 of 2020

Civil Appeal No. 604 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.26724 of 2019)

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Civil Appeal No. 609 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 518 of 2020)

Civil Appeal No. 610 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.1155 of 2020)




1. The validity of the Notifications issued by the Central

Council of Indian Medicine (hereinafter referred to as, ‘the

Central  Council’)  and  Central  Council  of  Homeopathy

prescribing  an  all-India  National  Eligibility  cum Entrance

Test  (for  short,  ‘NEET’)  for  admission to Under Graduate

courses  (BAMS,  BUMS,  BSMS  and  BHMS)  and  minimum

qualifying  marks  in  the  said  examination,  arise  in  the

above Appeals and Writ Petitions.  These notifications shall

apply  to  admissions  for  AYUSH Under  Graduate  courses

from the academic year 2019-2020. Similarly,  validity of

the  Notification  introducing  the  AYUSH  Post  Graduate

Entrance Test (AIA-PGET) for admissions to Post Graduate

courses  (MD-Ayurveda)  and  prescribing  minimum

qualifying marks also arises in the above appeals.       

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2. The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani,

Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homoeopathy (for short, ‘AYUSH’),

instructed all the State Governments, Union Territories and

the  Universities  concerned  to  admit  students  in  AYUSH

Under Graduate courses for the academic year 2018-2019

only on the basis of merit list of the NEET, conducted by

the  Central  Board  of  Secondary  Education  (CBSE)  in

accordance with the existing rules and reservation policies

of  the  concerned  State  Governments.    A  minimum

qualifying mark for eligibility to admissions in the Under

Graduate courses was prescribed at 50th percentile.   The

minimum marks for the Scheduled Castes and Schedules

Tribes and Other Backward Classes was prescribed at 40th

percentile.  The percentile shall be determined on the basis

of  marks  secured  in  the  all  India  Common  merit  list  in

NEET.  Thereafter, by a notification dated 07.12.2018, the

Central  Council  introduced  the  Indian  Medicine  Central

Council  (Minimum  Standards  of  Education  in  Indian

Medicine)  Amendment  Regulations,  2018  (hereinafter

referred  to  as,  ‘the  2018  Regulations).    The  Indian

Medicine Central Council (Minimum Standards of Education

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in  Indian Medicine)  Regulations,  1986 were amended by

the  2018  Regulations.   Regulation  2  (d)  of  the  2018

Regulations  provides  that  there  shall  be  a  uniform

entrance examination for all  medical institutions, namely

the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for admission

to under-graduate courses in each academic year and that

the NEET examination shall be conducted by an authority

designated  by  the  Central  Government.   The  minimum

eligibility mark for admission to Under Graduate courses

has been prescribed at 50th percentile for General category

candidates and 40th percentile for Scheduled Castes and

Schedules  Tribes  and  Other  Backward  Class  candidates.

The  Indian  Medicine  Central  Council  (Post  Graduate

Ayurvedic Education) Amendment Regulations, 2018 were

issued making amendments to the Indian Medicine Central

Council (Post Graduate Ayurvedic Education) Regulations,

2016.   An all  India entrance examination (AIA-PGET),  on

the  lines  of  the  examination  prescribed  for  the  Under

Graduate courses, was introduced by the said regulations

for Post Graduate courses.   

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3. The  Guru  Ravidas  Ayurved  University,  Hoshiarpur,

Punjab issued a prospectus on 31.07.2019 for admission to

BAMS,  BHMS  and  BUMS  courses  prescribing  minimum

marks  in  NEET  and  the  criteria  for  admission  to  Under

Graduate courses.  In Civil Writ Petition No.23710 of 2019

filed  by  the  managements  of  AYUSH colleges,  the  High

Court of Punjab and Haryana passed an interim order on

06.09.2019  permitting  admission  of  students  to  Under

Graduate  courses  (BAMS,  BHMS  and  BUMS)  without

insisting  on  the  students  getting  the  minimum requisite

percentile in the NEET.    Similar orders were passed by the

High Court of Punjab and Haryana in other Writ Petitions.

All  the  Writ  Petitions  filed  by  the  Ayurvedic  and

Homeopathic colleges were dismissed by the High Court of

Punjab  and  Haryana  by  its  judgment  dated  18.12.2019.

Aggrieved by the said judgment, the Colleges as well as

the students filed these Special Leave Petitions before us.

There  are  other  SLPs  filed  by  the  students  seeking

admission to Under Graduate courses (BAMS, BUMS and

BHMS) for the academic year 2019-2020.   Admission were

granted to students in the Institutions on the basis of the

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interim orders of the High Court without insisting on the

eligibility  criterion  fixed  by  the  2018  Regulations  i.e.

securing minimum marks in NEET.   The Central  Council

has also filed some SLPs, aggrieved by the interim orders

passed  by  the  High  Courts  permitting  admission  of

students without insisting on the NEET eligibility in Under

Graduate as well as Post Graduate courses.   

4. As  stated  above,  the  point  that  arises  for  our

consideration is whether the students seeking admissions

to  Under  Graduate  courses  (BAMS,  BUMS,  BSMS  and

BHMS)  and  Post  Graduate  courses  can  be  denied

admission on the ground that they did not take the NEET

or that they did not get the minimum percentile prescribed

by the 2018 Regulations.  It would be convenient to refer

to the facts in SLP (C) No.29 of 2020 which has been filed

against  the  judgment  of  the  High  Court  of  Punjab  and

Haryana dated 18.12.2019 in Civil Writ Petition No.23710

of 2019 (O&M), as the lead matter.  

5. In the High Court, it was contended on behalf of the

Institutions  which  filed  the  Writ  Petitions  that  the  2018

Regulations  are  ultra  vires the  Indian  Medicine  Central

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Council Act, 1970 (hereinafter referred to as, ‘the Act’).  It

was argued that introduction of an all India examination in

the  form  of  NEET  is  beyond  the  regulation  making

authority of  the Central  Council  under Section 36 of  the

Act.   Reliance was placed by the Writ Petitioners on the

fact  that  the  NEET  examination  was  introduced  for  the

MBBS and BDS courses only after amending the provisions

of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Dentists Act,

1948  respectively.     Reference  was  made  to  the

amendments carried out to Section 10 and Section 33 of

the  Act  and  introduction  of  Section  10-A  in  both  the

aforementioned  Acts.   It  was  contended  that  without

conducting a similar exercise of amending the provisions of

the  Act  empowering  the  Central  Council  to  make

regulations governing entrance examinations, the Central

Council  hastily  made  the  2018  Regulations.    The  High

Court  dismissed  the  Writ  Petitions  by  rejecting  the

contentions raised on behalf of the Institutions by holding

that the impugned Regulations dated 07.12.2018 were well

within the powers conferred on the Central Council by the

Act.   The admissions made to the Under Graduate courses

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for the academic year 2019-2020 to students without NEET

eligibility  were  found  to  be  unsustainable  as  they  were

contrary to the 2018 Regulations.  The High Court held that

the students cannot claim any equity because the interim

orders on the basis of which admissions were given to the

students stipulated that their admissions would be subject

to the final result of the Writ Petitions.   

6. It was contended on behalf of the Institutions and the

students that the 2018 Regulations are ultra vires the Act.

No  power  is  conferred  on  the  Central  Council  to  make

Regulations  for  introduction  of  an  all  India  entrance

examination under Section 36 of the Act.    Assuming that

the Regulations were made under the general rule making

power, the submission on behalf of the Institutions and the

students  was  that  the  2018  Regulations  are  not  in

conformity with “purposes of the Act” under Section 36 (1)

of the Act.  In support of the submissions, reference was

made  to  the  amendments  that  were  carried  out  to  the

Indian  Medicine  Council  Act,  1956  and  the  Dentist  Act,

1948  before  making  Regulations  by  which  the  all  India

examinations for  admission to  Under  Graduate and Post

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Graduate courses were introduced.  The further submission

of the students and the Institutions was that NEET is not

structured for Ayurvedic courses as the syllabi for AYUSH

courses  is  completely  different  from syllabi  for  MBBS or

BDS courses.  

7. Per contra, Ms. Pinky Anand, the learned Additional

Solicitor  General  appearing  for  the  Central  Council

submitted  that  the  2018 Regulations  are  perfectly  valid

having  been  made  in  the  valid  exercise  of  the  power

conferred on the Central Council under Section 36 of the

Act.   Ms.  Anand  submitted  that  Section  22  of  the  Act

pertaining  to  the  minimum  standards  of  education  in

Indian Medicine includes the power to conduct  entrance

examination for admission to the Under Graduate courses.

According to Ms. Anand, the Central Council is not denuded

of the power to make Regulations as Section 36 of the Act

enables the Council to make Regulations generally to carry

out the purposes of the Act.  She urged that the minimum

qualifying  percentile  fixed  for  admission  to  the  Under

Graduate  courses  (BAMS,  BSMS,  BUMS  and  BHMS)  is

required  to  be  maintained  in  order  to  ensure  minimum

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standards  of  education.   She  contended  that  general

standards for admission to professional courses are fixed

on the basis  of  a  detailed study and the correctness  of

such decision is beyond the ken of this Court.   

8. It is relevant to refer to the provisions of the Indian

Medicine Central Council Act, 1970.  Section 22 of the Act

confers  power  on  the  Central  Council  to  prescribe

minimum standards of education in Indian medicine which

are required for granting recognised medical qualifications

by  Universities,  Boards  or  medical  institutions  in  India.

Section 36 provides that the Central Council may, with the

previous  sanction  of  the  Central  Governments  make

regulations generally to carry out the purposes of the Act.

Section 36 (i), (j), (k) and (p) are as follows:

“(i)  the  courses  and period  of  study  and of  practical

training to be undertaken, the subjects of examination

and the standards of proficiency therein to be obtained,

in any University, Board or Medical Institutions for grant

of recognised medical qualifications;

(j) the standards of staff, equipment, accommodation,

training  and  other  facilities  for  education  in  Indian


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(k)  the  conduct  of  professional  examinations,

qualifications  of  examiners  and  the  conditions  of

admissions to such examinations;

(p) any matter for which under this Act provision may

be made by regulations.”  

9. We are in  agreement with the contention made on

behalf of the students and the Institutions that introduction

of an all India examination will not be covered by Section

36 (i), (j) and (k) of the Act.  However, Section 36 (p) refers

to any matter under the Act for which provision may be

made  by  the  Regulations.  In  our  considered  opinion,

Section  22  which  deals  with  the  minimum standards  of

education  in  Indian  Medicine,  covers  the topic  of  an  all

India common entrance examination.   We are supported in

this  view  by  a  judgment  of  this  Court  in  Veterinary

Council  of  India  v.  Indian  Council  of  Agricultural

Research1.  Section 22 of the Veterinary Council of India

Act is in pari materia with Section 22 of the Indian Council

of  Medicine  Act.    An  all  India  common  entrance

examination was introduced by Regulations made by the

Veterinary  Council  of  India  in  1993  and  an  examination

was conducted pursuant thereto from the academic year

1 (2000) 1 SCC 750

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1995-1996.  The dispute pertaining to the validity of the

Regulations was resolved by this Court by holding that the

Veterinary  Council  of  India  is  authorized  to  frame

regulations  prescribing  the  standards  of  veterinary

education  and  such  power  includes  power  to  make

Regulations relating to grant of admissions and veterinary

qualifications.   This Court observed that such authority to

frame regulations  regarding  admissions  is  necessary  for

maintaining the standards of education.   The instant case

is squarely covered by the law laid down by this Court in

Veterinary Council of India (supra) therefore, we are of

the opinion that the 2018 Regulations cannot be said to be

ultra vires the Act.  

10. The last date for admissions to the Under Graduate

courses  for  the  academic  year  2019-2020  was  15th

October, 2019 and 31st October,  2019 for Post Graduate

courses.  One of the contentions raised on behalf of the

Institutions  and  the  students  is  that  a  large  number  of

seats in the first year Ayurvedic, Homeopathy and Unani

courses are not filled up.  To illustrate, Mr. P.S. Patwalia,

learned Senior Counsel submitted that there are 540 seats

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available for admission to the first  year BAMS course in

Guru Ravidas Ayurved University.    Only 27 seats could be

filled up in the all India counselling held on 25.06.2019. In

the second counselling which was held on 24.07.2019, only

28  candidates  were  found  eligible.  After  the  State

counselling, 320 out of 540 seats remained vacant.  On the

basis of interim orders passed by the High Court of Punjab

and Haryana, admissions were made without insisting on

NEET and in the process, 275 seats were filled.    

11. Similar  statements  were  made  on  behalf  of  the

Institutions and the students  from the other  States that

insistence on the minimum qualifying marks in the NEET

would  render  a  large  number  of  seats  in  the  Under

Graduate  courses  for  the  academic  year  2018-2019

vacant.   A fervent plea was made by the learned counsel

appearing for the students that they may be permitted to

continue  as  they  have  already  been  admitted  and  they

would lose a precious year in  case their  admissions are

cancelled.    In  any  event,  the  seats  vacated  by  them

cannot be filled up.   

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12. Prescribing a minimum percentile for admission to the

Under  Graduate  courses  for  the  year  2019-2020  was

vehemently defended by the Central Council and the Union

of India by submitting that the minimum standards cannot

be lowered even for AYUSH courses.  We agree.  Doctors

who  are  qualified  in  Ayurvedic,  Unani  and  Homeopathy

streams  also  treat  patients  and  the  lack  of  minimum

standards of education would result in half-baked doctors

being turned out of professional colleges.  Non-availability

of  eligible  candidates  for  admission  to  AYUSH  Under

Graduate  courses  cannot  be  a  reason  to  lower  the

standards prescribed by the Central Council for admission.

However,  in  view  of  admission  of  a  large  number  of

students  to  the  AYUSH Under  Graduate  courses  for  the

year 2019-2020 on the strength of interim orders passed

by the High Courts,  we direct that the students may be

permitted to  continue provided that  they were admitted

prior to the last date of admission i.e. 15th October, 2019.

The said direction is also applicable to students admitted

to Post Graduate courses before 31st October, 2019.   This

is a one-time exercise which is permitted in view of the

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peculiar circumstances.  Therefore, this order shall not be

treated as a precedent.  

13. The notification dated 14.12.2018 pertaining to the

Homeopathy  courses  is  similar  to  that  of  the  AYUSH

courses.   It  was  contended  on  behalf  of  Homeopathy

colleges that the procedure prescribed in Section 20 (2) of

the  Homeopathy  Central  Council  Act,  1973  (for  short,

‘1973 Act’) was not followed before the amendment was

carried out to the Regulations.  In view of the paucity of

time,  no  response  was  filed  by  the  Central  Council  of

Homeopathy or by the Union of India clarifying the factual

position pertaining to the non-compliance of the procedure

prescribed under the 1973 Act for making Regulations.   In

view of the same, we are not in a position to decide the

issue raised by the Petitioners in Writ Petition (C) No.1461

of 2019.  We leave it open to the Petitioners to raise these

issues before the High Court, if they deem it fit and proper.

It  is  not  necessary  to  deal  with  various  submissions

made by the Appellants in view of the order passed by

us permitting the students to continue their studies.   

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14. For the afore mentioned observations, all the Appeals

and the Writ Petitions are disposed of.                             

             ...................................J.                                    [L. NAGESWARA RAO]

                                            ..................................J.                                                   [DEEPAK GUPTA]

New Delhi, February 20, 2020.   

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