The Centre may approach the Supreme Court to seek to defer the second phase of the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET), a common entrance test for all the medical and dental colleges across the country, to next year amid protests by students and parents.
Union health minister JP Nadda on Monday held a meeting with state health and education ministers in Delhi on conducting NEET- 2 on July 24.
“We will be considering the three problems that were put forward by the representatives. One, the ongoing state exams. Two, language and three, different syllabus for state exams. We will approach the court after consultations,” Nadda said.
Parents have called the SC’s decision “hasty” and demanded that NEET is deferred by at least a year. Hundreds of parents in Mumbai even took to the streets to protest against the national medical entrance exam last week.
Representatives from all states agreed that there were practical difficulties in implementing the NEET from this year, and urged Nadda to appeal to the court to defer the centralised test for the 2017-18 academic year.
Vinod Tawade, education and health minister of Maharashtra, said, “The main thing is to protect the future of the students. The syllabus for the state examination is different and the students giving exam in regional languages will also have a problem. So, we have requested the minister to appeal to the court and if the court does not agree then the exam can be differed using ordinance.”
Karnataka’s health minister UT Khader also agreed NEET should be moved to next academic session saying it will be very difficult for the students of regional languages to take the test.
“We are all in favour of NEET and corruption-free medical education but implementing it this year would be a disadvantage for people who had prepared for state examinations. People going to coaching would be at an unfair advantage,” the state minister said.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain, on the other hand, said the exam should be implemented from this year itself.
“We want this exam to be implemented with immediate effect. It is a good decision and it prevents students from writing 15-20 different tests. Also, deferring it would be in favour of private medical institutes,” he said.
According to the sources in the health ministry, the need to hold a consultation was felt after several parliamentarians expressed resentment over holding the common entrance exam for premedical (MBBS) and predental (BDS) courses at such a short notice.
A day before the meeting on Sunday, Nadda said that the ministry was hoping to find a solution to address the concerns of lakhs of medical aspirants and their parents.
The top court on April 11 had paved the way for Medical Council of India (MCI) to conduct NEET from the academic session 2016-17 for medical courses across the country.
Earlier this week, the apex court also turned down a batch of appeals by states seeking to conduct their own medical admission tests and ruled that only NEET would enable students to get admission to medical and dental courses.
Following the apex court’s ruling, opposition parties raised concerns that students graduating from state boards in vernacular languages and living in remote areas may not be able to perform well in the common entrance exam despite being competitive.
Several MPs even urged the government to bring an ordinance to stall the exam for the current academic session.