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NEET-SS November 2021: NBE says no change in pattern after Supreme Court observations in previous hearing

The petition was instituted by 40 post graduate doctors who have challenged the change in pattern of ensuing NEET-SS which is due to be held on 13/14 Nov.

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The National Board of Examinations (NBE) on Wednesday has said that there will be no change in pattern in the NEET-Super Specialty scheduled in November 2021. The NBE said this in its response to Supreme Court directions to it and the Central government on petitions against a change in the pattern.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati also informed the Apex Court that the new pattern will come into effect from next year i.e. 2022-2023 batches.

The Supreme Court bench presided by Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and B.V. Nagarathna disposed of the petition, expressing satisfaction at the decision taken by the Central Government after yesterday’s criticism against the revised pattern of exam that it might have been done to favour private medical colleges.

Yesterday, the bench observed that General Medicine has maximum strength for which students could be found to fill up vacant seats in private institutions/ colleges for super speciality courses.

“For 12 super specialties, the entire examination is going to be only on General Medicine. The logic seems to be, general medicine is the largest pool, and tap them to fill the seats. That seems to be idea,” the bench had stated.  

On an earlier date, Senior Counsel Shyam Divan, appearing on behalf of the petitioners, pointed out the urgency in the matter as the exams was set to be held in November and the pattern right before the said exams has been changed by the NBE without any prior notification.

Senior Counsel Maninder Singh, representing NBE, stated that the change in pattern was impending and inevitable. The change would have come prior to this stage, had the NBE obtained the requisite approvals from the Health Ministry. Since the said approval was delayed, the notification of the change in pattern was subsequently delayed, he added. 

“Candidates must not feel that they have not been extended sufficient time to prepare for the examination under the Revised Scheme. In the circumstances, it was decided that NEET-SS be deferred by a period of two months and be held on January 10-11, 2022 so as to provide ample time to all of them for their preparation for the entrance examination under the revised scheme,” Singh had stated.

The court pointed out that the Executive has no right to play with the lives of students and young doctors in this manner; it also pointed out what happened with the CLAT examinations and stated how lives and careers are at stake and they are far too valuable than the delay at the Executive’s end with respect to approvals for changing policy.

“Just because you have power, you are wielding power like this. Please speak to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to look at this. Don’t treat these young doctors as football in this game of power.”

The aforesaid decision of the Centre was a result of directions by the apex court stating, “Hold a meeting (Ministries and NBE) and put your house in order; the insensitive bureaucrats should not cheat the young doctors of the country.”

The petition was instituted by 40 post-graduate doctors who challenged the change in pattern of ensuing NEET-SS which is due to be held on November 13-14. The notification for the examination was issued on July 23. On July 31, the entire pattern which prevailed from 2018 has been sought to be changed. 60% marks were to be allotted in super speciality while 40% from feeder courses. Relying on the example in the petition, the entirety of questions for critical care Super Speciality will be drawn from general medicine leaving Student form other categories in vain. It was stated that the change in pattern would grossly infringe and violate the fundamental rights of the petitioners under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Case Title: Prateek Rastogi vs National Board of Examination

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