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Friday, October 22, 2021

Seems bid solely to fill vacant PG seats: SC on late changes to NEET-SS pattern

“I read the affidavit...that’s what it prima facie appears,” Justice D Y Chandrachud, heading a three-judge bench, told senior advocate Maninder Singh, who appeared for the National Board of Examinations, when he said “we will try to prove that all this hasn’t been done only to fill vacancies”.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: October 7, 2021 10:40:28 am
“I read the affidavit...that’s what it prima facie appears,” Justice D Y Chandrachud, heading a three-judge bench, told senior advocate Maninder Singh, who appeared for the National Board of Examinations, when he said “we will try to prove that all this hasn’t been done only to fill vacancies”.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday conveyed its displeasure over “last-minute changes” made to the pattern of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test — Super Specialty (NEET-SS), 2021, and said that it prima facie appears that the attempt appeared to be intended only to fill vacant post graduate Medical seats.

“I read the affidavit…that’s what it prima facie appears,” Justice DY Chandrachud, heading a three-judge bench, told senior advocate Maninder Singh, who appeared for the National Board of Examinations (NBE), when he said that “we will try to prove that all this hasn’t been done only to fill vacancies”.

The court said that the plan to rush through with the changes this year itself gives a “very strong impression that medical education has become a business, and even medical regulation has become a business”.

“That’s the tragedy of medical education in this country,” Justice Chandrachud said. He asked the government to “please put your house in order”, failing which “our hands in law are very lengthy”.

Stating that the changes could have been introduced from next year to give candidates enough time, the court questioned the ‘haste” to introduce them from this year itself. “Heavens would not have fallen if you would’ve introduced the changes from next year,” Justice Chandrachud said.

Hearing the matter on September 27, the court had frowned upon the National Medical Commission (NMC) and NBE for making the changes and asked them to take it up with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to see what can be done.

In response, the government filed an affidavit, standing by the decision, stating that the pattern change is “in the interest of students and medical education”, and is based on a “logical and rational approach that the candidates should be tested on the basis of the curriculum/course/training which these candidates had secured during the period of their postgraduate course”. It will minimise wastage of super-speciality seats, the government stated.

It also proposed to reschedule the exams due to being held in November this year to January 2022 so that the candidates get more time to prepare.

As the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday before the bench, also comprising Justices Vikram Nath and B V Nagarathna, the bench pointed out that seats are never vacant in government colleges but only in private institutions. “We have a surmise, that the entire haste is for filling the vacant seats.”

Justice Chandrachud noted that as per the new system, the entirety of questions would be from general medicine. He said “Earlier, a candidate who had studied anaesthesia would also have got some questions from it. Now all questions are from general medicine. What this does is privileging students who have done general medicine at the cost of all other feeder specialities”.

According to the pattern existing now, 60 per cent of questions would be from the super-speciality subject chosen by the candidate and the remaining 40 per cent from feeder courses.

Singh said that it was done on the recommendation of experts.

But the court was not impressed and responded that experts to are subject to Article 14.

Singh submitted that many seats were unfilled last year because students in merit were from other courses.\

Justice Chandrachud said, “You can introduce these changes but give the students some time. What is the hurry? You are an expert body. We are not going to sit on judgment.”

Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati said that going back to the old system will derail the entire process. Thousands have already registered and question papers framed, she submitted.

But the bench pointed out that the Super Specialty entrance requires years of preparation.

“It’s not a matter of some months like CLAT. They have to study consistently. We know the vacant seats, but they are torchbearers. We have forgotten them in the entire process”.

The hearing will continue on Wednesday.

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