Reducing percentile for admission to the first-year BDS course would not amount to lowering the standards of education. The Supreme Court of India allowed writ petitions from the students who qualified NEET, for admission to BDS and lowered the minimum marks by 10% for the students. The judgement was given by Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Krishna Murari in the matter of, Harshit Agarwal & Ors vs. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (C) No.54 of 2021].
The learned Senior Counsel submitted that the proviso to Regulation II (5) (ii) of the Regulations empowers the Central Government to lower the minimum marks required for admission to BDS course in consultation with the Dental Council of India. In spite of the recommendation made by the Dental Council of India for lowering the qualifying cut off percentile, the first Respondent has arbitrarily and unreasonably did not act upon the recommendation.
Mr. Krishna Dev learned counsel argued that there is no basis for the assumption that lowering of the percentile would affect standards of education. There is no basis for the allegation that the private colleges have been charging exorbitant fees for which reason seats in the BDS first year are not being filled up.
It was made clear in the proviso that the Central Government has the discretion to lower the minimum marks required for admission to BDS course in consultation with the Dental Council of India when sufficient number of candidates in the respective categories fail to secure minimum marks in the NEET entrance test.
The judgement stated, “…we set aside the decision of the first Respondent dated 30.12.2020 to not reduce the minimum marks for admission to BDS course as it suffers from the vices of illegality and irrationality. We direct that the vacant seats in first year BDS course for the year 2020-2021 shall be filled up from the candidates who have participated in the NEET (UG) courses for the year 2020-2021 after lowering the percentile mark by 10 percentiles. The candidates belonging to the general category who have secured 40 percentiles shall be eligible to be considered for admission in the first year BDS course for the year 2020-2021. Likewise, students belonging to the SC/ST/OBC categories shall be qualified if they have secured 30 percentiles. In so far as General candidates with bench mark disabilities specified under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, they would be eligible if they have secured 35 percentiles.”
It further stated, “The admissions shall be made strictly in accordance with merit and the admission process shall be completed by 18.02.2021. Any other student who has qualified in NEET (UG) – 2020 even without lowering the minimum marks and is willing to participate in the admission process shall also be considered for admission to BDS course.”