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After hour-long arguments, amended petition to be filed over law CET in Bombay High Court

Anuj Agrawal

A petition challenging the youngest common law entrance test in the country, the Maharashtra CET, saw arguments stretch for more than ninety minutes in the Bombay High Court today.

The bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and Dr. Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi provided a patient hearing to counsel Pradnya Talekar, who appeared for the petitioner. The case also saw the former Advocate General of Maharasthra, Shreehari Aney, appear on behalf of the State.

Talekar made a number of submissions against the law CET, including the averment that the examination is being conducted under the Maharashtra Unaided Private Professional Educational Institutions (Regulations of Admission and Fees) Act of 2015. Talekar argued that this Act did not cover governmental institutions.

Instead, the relevant legislation would be the Maharashtra Universities Act of 1994; S.65 of this Act governs admissions to universities across the State. She also highlighted a number of discrepancies that took place from the date the CET was announced, right up till the date of the examination.

For instance, the State claims that the syllabus was published in January this year; however what was published was only a breakup of the marks. There was no indication of how the syllabus was framed, and why the colleges which come under the CET were not consulted before framing the syllabus.

In the post-lunch session, Talekar summed up her arguments, after which Aney began. First off, Aney was all praise for the petitioner’s counsel.

“It is refreshing to see someone so young, argue so well. And I am happy to see this.”

Admitting that the State would not shy away from addressing the wrongs, if any, in the entire process, Aney also said that since the petitioner did not take the exam, and that counselling was underway, it may be counter-productive to continue hearing the petition.

“The 123 colleges [that are not under the government] are not before the High Court. Nor are any of the students who wrote the CET. As it stands, the petition may be counter-productive.”

Aney also argued that the petition ought to be amended, since a number or arguments such as the vires of the relevant notifications were not part of the petition itself.

To this, Talekar said that an amended petition would be drafted and filed in court tomorrow itself. This amended petition, which will reflect the arguments made in court today, will now be placed before the court tomorrow. Once the court approves of the amended petition, the same shall be taken on record. A reply to this is expected to be filed by Friday.

The matter is now posted for July 4, by which time the counselling for the CET should have been completed.

When Talekar pushed for an earlier date, the court said that if there was indeed a violation of fundamental rights, the CET would be  void ab initio.

“[The State] is willing to take that risk,” observed Dharmadikari J, “so let them take that risk.”

Comments to this post have been disabled. You can view more information on the CET admission process here.

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