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SC recalls order scrapping NEET

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-By Deepti Jain

Careers of many medical aspirants are at stake, after the apex court on April 11, reverted its 2013 controversial judgment for striking down NEET (national eligibility and entrance test) for admission to MBBS, BDS and PG in all medical colleges of India, saying the verdict was delivered without any discussion among the three-bench headed by then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir on the day of his retirement. Justice AR Dave, heading the five judge constitutional bench, said that judgment in the case MCI (Medical Council of India) vs Christian college, Vellore, which allowed private colleges to conduct their own entrance examination “needs reconsideration” as “the majority view has not taken into consideration some binding precedents”.

NEET is a single medical entrance exam for entrance to all the medical courses in the country, which spares students the ordeal of appearing for numerous entrance exams. Pending the fresh judgment, the NEET is now restored and CBSE might roll out notification for the exam anytime, even for the present academic year. Moreover, according to the guidelines of NEET it is mandatory for the general category students to score minimum 50 percent in each paper. In case of reserved category students, the minimum requirement is 40 percent in each paper. In case of the reserved seats not being filled, these will automatically be transferred to general category.

The apex court, in its July 18, 2013 judgment, had held that MCI’s notification to conduct common medical examination was ‘invalid’ on the grounds that it will write off the constitutional rights of the state governments, private colleges and minority institutions to admit students by their own procedure.

The verdict has resulted in mounting pressure on the aspirants. “My daughter’s whole schedule has got disturbed because of the SC’s decision. Already the admit card of the most of the colleges have come and dates for the exams have been fixed. We are in a very confused state of mind,” said Bhavna Rastogi, a resident of Gurgaon.

Sanjana Jeslani, an aspirant,said: “There should be multiple exams so that we can get an idea of the pattern. Having only single entrance test in a year reduces chances of getting admission and can waste an entire year if we do not perform well on that particular day.”

If the NEET is implemented it will have an immense impact on lakhs of medical students across the country, especially in states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh where admission for state government quota seats in medical colleges is given on merit considering XIIth standard grades.

Under state reservation quota more than half of the seats in all government medical colleges are reserved for the domiciled candidates and around 10 percent in private colleges but by the implementation of the NEET, the state’s discretion will become objective. The candidates might have to struggle more to get admission in their favorable college.

Another major problem with NEET is, it will solely be based on CBSE syllabus and the students enrolled in other state boards will stand to lose. Also, the exam can only be attempted either in English or Hindi language, which will again pose a problem for aspirants living in rural areas studying in native languages. “It would be difficult for my brother to crack exam as he is not conversant in English and belonging to lower middle class family, paying fees for private institutions is beyond our reach,” said Amrutha Chandran , resident of Bengaluru.

Common entrance exams in India choose students on the basis of single day performance. Also, they do not test the candidate’s actual skills and abilities for the profession. Aspirants must be allowed to choose their own dates when they are best prepared (on the pattern of GMAT or SAT) because it is possible that the candidate might simply be unwell on the day of examination or might miss the test due to some extraneous reason.

If one looks closely some of the world’s best medical colleges like Harvard Medical Institute in Boston, they conduct their own exams for post-graduation course (MD) and assessment of student is done in multiple stages. Weightage is also given to the interview session and the grades of graduation. A reputed private university in India also gives three attempts to its candidate and the highest marks are taken into consideration while preparing the merit list.

Though the court has given green signal to MCI for restoring NEET but for the present year it would be difficult to conduct because there’s hardly any time left to change the entire schedule. Most of the state level common entrance exam (CET) are already been scheduled in the month of May.

SC ruling has caused panic among medical aspirants by not mentioning in their order, the year in which NEET should be conducted. Talking over on phone with the student counsellor, Maheshwar, Manipal University, Mangalore said: “It will be unjust for the students if the NEET is conducted this year. It will have an impact on their performance. It will especially affect those students who have done preparation on the basis of the particular pattern of the college in which they want to study.”

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