The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to consider upon a representation within one week to be filed by Post Graduate medical course aspirants seeking extension of eligibility criteria i.e. one year internship period to be completed till May 31, 2022 or before to appear in the NEET-PG 2022 examination.
The NEET-PG 2022 candidates submitted before the Apex Court that the May 31 deadline provided under Clause 4.1 and 4.2 of the Information Bulletin for NEET-PG 2022, is manifestly arbitrary as it deprives thousands of candidates to apply for the examination. Further, the writ petitioners alleged that the schedule for NEET-PG 2022-23 is clashing with the counselling schedule of NEET-PG 2021-22 and, therefore, it deprives the candidates from 2021 to appear in the NEET-PG 2022-23 (subject to allocation of seats) on the basis of counselling.
The bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath said it cannot enter into the domain of policy makers and asked aspirants of NEET-PG 2022 to submit a representation to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and directed the Ministry to consider the representation within a week of submission.
The writ petition has been filed by the doctors who are aspirants of NEET-PG 2022 to seek postponement of the NEET examination scheduled to be held on March 12, 2022, for admissions to post-graduate medical courses. Since the Government has extended the exam date for 6-8 weeks, the said prayer became infructuous.
The plea said NEET-PG is an eligibility-cum-ranking examination prescribed as the single entrance examination for admission to various MD/MS and PG Diploma Courses as per Section 61(2) of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 read with 10 (D) of Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohtagi appeared on behalf of the petitioner candidates and submitted that the petitioner face the loss of a year because of the deadline i.e. 31st May 2022 as in pursuant to the Prime Minister’s announcement, circulars were issued by various colleges and the petitioner doctors joined as frontline workers for Covid-19 duties. Rohatgi submitted that many of the MBBS graduates would not be able to take up the examination due to non-completion of the mandatory internship period.
The entrance exam was originally kept for March 2022, next month. But with NEET 2021 also delayed, there would be a clash but fortunately, it’s been taken care of by postponing the same to May 31, 2022.
The problem now is that to be eligible for NEET 2022 the candidates must have completed 1 year internship on or before May 31. But ever since Covid-19, there are disparities and different institutes and different parts of the country are prescribing different dates for the internship. Also, on Page 139, samples are there for internships, submitted by Rohtagi while requesting for an extension of the same by 3 months.
Cannot enter domain of policy makers: SC
The bench replied that even if the Court does so, it will breach the division of powers and enter into the domain of the policy making and they understand the hardships done to these students and states that, what they can maximum do is record the submissions based on hardships and allow him to make representation to the Government of India to consider it so that they don’t enter into the domain of the policy.
The bench held, “The petitioners have stated that many candidates have joined Covid duty due to which their period of internships was postponed. Moreover, Mukul Rohatgi submits that different institutes and different parts of the country are prescribing different dates for which the internship pertains which is making a huge loss to the candidates. At this stage, we noted that one of the grounds under which the petitioners under Article 32 have moved is between the clash between the schedule of counselling between NEET PG EXAM 2021 and the NEET PG 2022 EXAM for the academic year.”
“We are of the view that justice should be met. Petitioners are permitted to submit a representation to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare setting out the nature of the hardship faced by the Petitioner. We request that the representations should be considered expeditiously within one week of the date of their submission to the competent authority. We may also clarify that in the view of the fact that the court is open to the petitioner to move the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with a representation, no opinion has been expressed by the court on the merits of the grievance at the present stage.”
The writ petition filed by AOR Charu Mathur highlighted the candidates are the victim of circumstances as they were not informed by the appropriate authorities that if they serve as frontline workers in Covid times, there will be a delay in commencement of their internship and that can lead circumstances as serious as denying them a chance to appear in NEET PG 2022 examination.