NEET ordinance exempts state govt medical colleges in 2016

Written by | May 24, 2016 | 0

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee has signed an ordinance to keep state educational boards out of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medical and dental courses in 2016.

The ordinance on the common medical entrance exam had been sent on Saturday to the President, who left for China on Tuesday on a four-day state visit after signing the order. Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi was at the president’s Secretariat early Tuesday morning along with top health ministry officials to respond to clarifications sought by the president on NEET.

Following the promulgation, state boards will organize their own entrance test for admission to government medical colleges. Admission to private medical colleges will be through NEET, which will be held on 24 July. The government clarified that management quotas and non-resident Indian (NRI) quotas will have to come through candidates taking NEET.

The ordinance is a partial reversal of the Supreme Court order that asked even state boards to follow NEET from the current year.

“There is no change for state medical colleges. They will hold entrances in their own languages and follow their own syllabus. But private colleges will have to accept score of NEET,” said a health ministry official familiar with the development on condition of anonymity.

The NEET ordinance was delayed after the president, who felt it may be challenged in court, sought legal advice from the attorney general on the matter, people familiar with the situation said.

Hundreds of thousands of students have been waiting for clarity on the matter. Nearly 650,000 students sat for the first phase of NEET on 1 May.

Ramesh Allanki, a lawyer representing the Andhra Pradesh and Telengana Medical and Dental Association, an umbrella organisation of private medical colleges in the two states, said that he would challenge the ordinance. “If they want to stop the MCI regulation, they must put out an ordinance changing the entire regulation, not a part of it,” Allanki said.

Amit Anand Tiwari, counsel for a deemed university that he didn’t want to name, said his client’s primary grouse against the ordinance is its “discriminatory” nature. “The basis of the Supreme Court judgment was that there should be a standardised entrance examination for all who wanted to study medicine, so why the discrimination between private and state-run colleges?” he asked.

Tiwari also expressed concerns about one standardised examination, which he claimed would lead to depletion in the quality of students who would want to take admission in a private deemed university like his client.

Advocate Amit Kumar, appearing for the NGO Sankalp Charitable Trust who had moved the Supreme Court to enforce NEET, also said he would also challenge ordinance, which he called unconstitutional. Kumar said that scams like Vyapam were proof that keeping giving a free reign to government colleges was not a good idea. “The court has made it very clear that a common entrance exam should be the norm, so the executive can’t possibly tweak it like this,” he added.

Earlier this month, several state health ministers met Union health minister J.P. Nadda to convey their reservations on NEET being implemented from this year. Differences in syllabus and lack of provisions for taking the test in regional languages were their main concerns.

The Supreme Court had directed that a common entrance test—NEET—will be held across India for MBBS and dental courses. But state governments had objected to its implementation from this year, saying it will be too stressful for students as they had little time to prepare for the syllabus and also there were issue of language. They said the students affiliated to state boards will find it tough to appear for the uniform test as early as July and such students will be at a loss compared to those who have followed the central board.

Different states earmark anything between 12-15% seats in various private medical colleges for state quota so that students from one state can get a seat in another state. More than 15 states were opposed to NEET and had raised issues like different syllabus and languages during the recent state health ministers’ meeting.

The exam will be applicable for those applying for Central government and private medical colleges.

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