Even as all medical colleges, both government and private, are preparing to admit students in MBBS courses through a National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test ( NEET) for the academic year 2013-14, several medical colleges have moved the Supreme Court seeking exemption from it on the ground that they are minority institutions.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices S S Nijjar and J Chelameswar on Tuesday started hearing on the petitions filed by 76 colleges, which claimed that they being either religious or linguistic minority colleges, were entitled autonomy in administration of their educational institutions under Article 30 of the Constitution.

In the lead case relating to Christian Medical College, Vellore, the court had on October 10 allowed the institution to receive applications for its own entrance examination for filling MBBS seats. But after hearing Medical Council of India counsel Nidesh Gupta, the court had put a caveat saying this “will not entitle the respondent institution to claim any equity on the basis thereof”.

This means, if the colleges lose the legal battle in the apex court, then they cannot claim a right to hold separate examination on the ground that they have already received applications from candidates.

This interim order allowing minority education institutions to receive applications from candidates for an individual entrance test for filling their respective under-graduate medical seats was extended to all colleges which approached the apex court invoking Article 30.

In the days to come, the apex court will witness an interesting constitutional battle as private institutions have engaged renowned lawyers like K K Venugopal, Harish Salve, Rajeev Dhavan and P P Rao.