President Pranab Mukherjee signed on Tuesday an ordinance to keep states out of the ambit of a court-mandated single, all-India medical entrance test this year.
The ordinance, cleared by the Union Cabinet last Friday, is aimed at “partially” overturning a Supreme Court verdict that said all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under the single examination called NEET.
The court ordered a single medical test, benefiting aspirants who juggle clashing exam schedules and differing admission norms by private colleges. The test was allowed to be held in two phases — the first phase was conducted on May 1 and the second phase is scheduled for July 24.
But many oppose the NEET on the ground that students affiliated to state boards would find it tough to deal with a test based on a central curriculum and conducted in English.
Mukherjee sought an explanation for the reasons behind bringing in the ordinance against the apex court decision on making participation mandatory for all medical colleges — state, deemed universities and private colleges — to admit students from the academic year 2016-17 and reprtedly consulted in-house experts before clearing it just ahead of his trip to China.
Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi was at the President’s Secretariat early this morning along with top health ministry officials to respond to the questions.
Clarifying that the exemption is only for the state government seats, government sources said the state seats that are earmarked in private medical colleges have also been exempted.
Different states earmark anything between 12-15% seats in various private medical colleges for state quota so that students from one state can get seats in another state. The remaining seats in such colleges are reserved for domicile students. With the Ordinance, the remaining seats meant for domicile students will come under NEET.
More than 15 states were opposed to NEET and had raised issues such as different syllabus and languages during a recent meeting among state health ministers’.
Representatives from 18 states met Union health minister JP Nadda a week ago and informed that NEET would put non-CBSE candidates at a disadvantage as there was too little time left for students to bridge the difference between state board syllabi and the central curriculum.
The next phase of the exam is scheduled for July 24. Nearly 6.5 lakh students have already taken the medical entrance test in the first phase of NEET held on May 1.
Once the ordinance is issued, students of state government boards will not have to sit for NEET on July 24.
They, however, will have to become part of the uniform entrance exam from next academic session, government sources said.
The exam will be applicable for those applying for Central government and private medical colleges.
They said the students affiliated to state boards will find it tough to appear for the uniform test as early as July and such students will be at a loss compared to those who have followed the central board.
“State governments wanted exemption and the issues were related to parity of syllabus and option of giving exam in regional languages,” Nadda said.
“After due consultation, we came out with an ordinance which provides NEET a statutory basis and where we give state governments an option to conduct examination and those who have conducted exams to go forward in that direction,” he said.