If the Supreme Court is to be saved, a bench comprising all its judges must take stock of the situation and consider the legal position dispassionately and wisely.
The real casualty in the drama that unfolded in the Supreme Court on Friday is public confidence in an institution that people still hold in high esteem.
At the heart of the case is the attempt by a medical college to get recognition despite failing to meet the standards needed to admit students and charge fees from them.
The Medical Council of India as well as the college in question had objected to the admission.
The Supreme Court had earlier directed medical bodies to refrain from such action and formed a panel to see which streams could accommodate those with colour blindness.
Delhi’s Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University has come under fire for denying admission to a student suffering from thalassemia.
A common entrance test forces a linear ranking among students who have widely different skills and is thus unfair to those who have studied in state boards.
The Medical Council of India’s directives are intended to prevent children from undergoing unnecessary procedures at the hands of incompetent doctors.
The policy falls somewhere between a comprehensive plan for major expansion of public health services, socialisation of the private sector and extreme privatisation.
The policy has proposed institutional reform, and steps to improve and upgrade the quality of services. But there is no correlation between the ambition targets and the public investment proposed.
Despite the medical council issuing a directive nearly 20 years ago to set up physical medicine and rehabilitation departments, most states do not have them.
The National Medical Commission Bill does not address several issues like establishing minimum qualifying marks for common medical entrance tests, regulating the fee for private colleges and the need for a strict code of ethics.
Since 2003, India has been adding more than 1,000 colleges per year. The peak was the period between 2007 and 2009, when the country added 7,206 colleges, about one-fifth of the total number.
The real impact of NEET, which has been unconstitutionally pushed down the throat of medical education, is that it is anti-poor, anti-minority, anti-federal and anti-constitution.
Since all states strongly opposed NEET and sought exemption this year, the court said it would consider this.
The bench was hearing petitions from various states and private medical college associations seeking stay of the NEET order.
The UN/WHO describe the ideal doctor-population ratio as 1:1,000, and India is approximately at half of that.
What the country urgently needs is a thorough clean-up of all medical education and regulatory bodies at the state and central levels