Amid strong reservations expressed by several states against conducting the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) this year, the NDA government Friday paved the way for an ordinance to keep state governments’ exams out of the ambit of the common test. The move, however, drew strong reaction from Congress and Aam Aadmi Party.
The ordinance, cleared by the Cabinet Friday morning, is aimed at “partially” negating a Supreme Court verdict stipulating NEET as the only exam to get admissions to medical colleges across the country. The top court had declined to grant a one-time exemption to state governments to conduct separate exams for the current session.
According to sources, deliberating upon NEET was the only agenda for the Cabinet meeting.
Clarifying that the exemption is only for the state government seats, sources said state seats earmarked in private medical colleges have also been exempted.
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- Congress rejects ordinance on NEET, alleges govt serving medical lobby’s interest
- NEET: Everything you need to know about the Supreme Court verdict
States earmark 12-15 per cent seats in various private medical colleges so that students from one state can get seat in another state. The remaining seats in such colleges are reserved for domicile students. Now with this Ordinance, the remaining seats meant for domicile students will come under NEET. Sources said more than 15 states had opposed NEET and had raised issues like different syllabus and languages during the state health ministers meeting.
The next phase of the exam is scheduled for July 24. Nearly 6.5 lakh students have already taken the entrance test in the first phase of NEET held on May 1. Once the ordinance is issued, students of state 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 session, government sources said. The exam will be applicable for those applying for central government-run and private medical colleges.
Congress slammed the government for bringing the ordinance, alleging that it was being influenced by the “powerful medical lobby”. Calling the decision “most inappropriate” and “unfortunate”, it asked the government to reconsider it.
“There are nearly 25,000 medical seats in the government sector and 24,000 in the private sector…And the private medical colleges are run by very influential people, many of them politicians. The government has succumbed to the pressure of the medical lobby. It is very unfortunate that the Supreme Court’ s very well-considered decision is going to be kept in abeyance,” Congress spokesperson P C Chacko said.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal too criticised the move. In a letter to PM Narendra Modi, Kejriwal said students had welcomed the apex court ruling on NEET since it discouraged ‘rich’ parents from making ‘donations’ to get their children admitted to reputed private medical colleges. He added that hardworking students would lose opportunities if the judgment was now followed.
He requested Modi not to bring the ordinance. “It has come to my attention that the Centre is planning to overturn the Supreme Court decision. People will feel let down and cheated if this happens,” stated his letter.
“It is my humble request to you that no orders be brought against the Supreme Court ruling in this matter, otherwise people will think that the Centre stands with those who hoard black money,” Kejriwal said.
On the other hand, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis has thanked the PM for the move. Fadnavis had on Wednesday met Modi in Delhi in connection with the standoff between states and the Centre over the NEET issue.
Health Minister J P Nadda is likely to meet President Pranab Mukherjee to explain the need for the ordinance.