The Supreme Court Friday declined to pass an order on the central government’s plea seeking amendment of the Medical Council of India’s December 2010 notification to hold a National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate medical courses from academic year 2013-14 instead of 2012-13.
Apparently not pleased with the latest position of the central government, a bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice C.K. Prasad said: “We don’t want to be party to any such decision. First you notify the rules for common entrance tests and then you don’t want to implement it.”
As Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal and MCI’s senior counsel Amarandra Sharan sought more time to switch to a common entrance test, Justice Dattu said: “It is for you to conduct the NEET or not conduct it, it is not for us.”
“Orders are passed at your convenience. Draft regulations had already been filed. Now you say you will not do it in 2012-13. This court will not be a party to the postponement.”
While allowing the government to take any executive action it wanted to take, the court said: “You do whatever you want, we will not be party to it.”
The court’s response came when Rawal drew the court’s attention to the divergent positions taken by several state governments for agreeing to participate in NEET for under graduate medical course involving MBBS and BDS.
The additional solicitor general withdrew the central government’s application after the court made it candidly clear that it was not going to pass any order.
Despite the rebuke by the Court, it was evident that central government would delay the holding of NEET for MBBS and BDS courses by academic year 2013-14.
Its application said that the chief ministers of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Assam have sought to be exempted from the NEET for 2012 as the students of their states would require some more time to switch over to the new system and get fully acquinted with the syllabus prescribed by the MCI.
The court was told that Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa has shown readiness for the NEET from the academic year 2013-14 where as Andhra Pradesh is inclined to join the NEET but has sought exemption for two years.
Kerala, the application said, has shown its willingness to join NEET with a rider that “all its reservation policies in admission to medical courses may be allowed to be followed.”
On the other hand, Assam has expressed reservation in respect of the minimum eligibility marks as provided under the NEET and said that it should be “allowed to add grace marks in order to ensure that adequate number of students from the state are selected for seats earmarked for the state in medical colleges”.
However, West Bengal has expressed preference to continue with a joint entrance examination board for all the colleges in the state, but would be ready to join the NEET for undergraduate medical courses if it was assured that Bengali language would be one of the media for the examination.