A common all-India medical entrance test will be held this year for admissions to MBBS and BDS courses. Prodded by the Supreme Court, the Health Ministry, along with the MCI and the CBSE, has undertaken to hold the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for the academic year 2016-17. Earlier, despite a go-ahead by the apex court to conduct NEET, sources in the Health Ministry had said that it was not practically possible to hold the common test at such short notice this year.
A three-judge bench led by Justice Anil R Dave was also apprised of the problems in conducting the common entrance test for 2016-17. It was argued that the notification for the common test had to be out by December and that it was too late to start the process for the current academic year. Further, it was pointed out that students had already filled up forms for various exams, some of which were already over and others were slated to take place soon.
The bench, however, told Centre, MCI and CBSE that if all the three were on board and acted in tandem, they could still conduct the common test for the current year. It underlined that the government could mobilise resources and the expert bodies could act swiftly to make ensure it was conducted for 2016-17.
At this, senior advocate Vikas Singh, who appeared for the MCI, as well as the counsel for the government and the CBSE, agreed to hold NEET this year.
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“They have assured this Court that they are ready and willing to hold NEET examination for admission to MBBS and BDS courses for the academic year 2016-17. As the counsel representing CBSE would like to take necessary instructions, hearing is adjourned for tomorrow,” stated the court order.
It asked the CBSE counsel to submit the proposed schedule of the examination Thursday and further directed that “a responsible officer of the CBSE, who can take on the spot decision, remains present in the court.”
The court order came days after a Constitution Bench, led by Justice Dave, recalled a 2013 judgment that had declared NEET “illegal” and “unconstitutional” on the ground that it interfered with the right of private, minority and linguistic institutions to admit students.
The 2013 judgment courted controversy after reports emerged it had been allegedly leaked before the order was pronounced. Further, Justice Dave, who recently authored the recall order, had in 2013 dissented from the majority view, pointing out there was no discussion among the bench before ruling against the validity of the common test.