After raising queries, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday signed the ordinance to keep state boards out of the common entrance test—NEET—for MBBS and dental courses for this year.
The president promulgated the ordinance this morning after health ministry officials returned with the file addressing all the queries raised by him, official sources said. Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi was at the President’s Secretariat early this morning along with top health ministry officials to respond to clarifications sought by the president on the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).
The ordinance had been sent on Saturday to the president, who left for China on Tuesday on a four-day state visit. After the ordinance on Uttarakhand was overturned by the Supreme Court earlier this month, the President’s Secretariat was this time more cautious and raised pointed queries as it was virtually taking on the apex court’s order which had directed the government to hold medical exams under NEET covering government and private colleges besides state boards.
Sources say that President in his meeting with the health minister raised questions on the REASON and URGENCY of the ordinance. The government clarification attempted to explain to the president that the Ordinance is not an attempt to go against the Supreme Court Decision, but rather to implement it.
The REASON and URGENCY for the ordinance was explained with the following points:-
- Language problem arising out of the at once Universal application of NEET.
- Syllabus problem which varies in every state
- Problem due to the ongoing medical entrance exams.
As per sources, the government detailed that 9 states have already accepted NEET. These include, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Delhi.The states which showed their reservations on accepting NEET right away include Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Telangana, and Jammu and Kashmir. These states essentially pointed out to their language problem with NEET . The purpose of the ordinance is just to seek to give these states a year to adjust themselves to the Supreme court ruling.
The president was briefed by Union health minister J.P. Nadda on Monday mainly on three issues including different exams of state boards, syllabi and regional languages. This was followed by another briefing by officials after which the file was taken back by the health ministry last night only to return this morning with additional information and legal advice.
The ordinance on NEET, cleared by the Union cabinet on Friday last, is aimed at “partially” overturning Supreme Court order that had also taken into account the multiple medical entrance tests by states and private colleges as well as allegations of corruption.
The court had directed that a common entrance test—NEET—will be held across India for MBBS and dental courses. But state governments had objected to its implementation from this year, saying it will be too stressful for students as they had little time to prepare for the syllabus and also there were issue of language. 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.
After the Supreme Court turned down the plea, the Centre had decided to take the ordinance route. Different states earmark anything between 12-15% seats in various private medical colleges for state quota so that students from one state can get seat in another state. More than 15 states were opposed to NEET and had raised issues like different syllabus and languages during the recent state health ministers’ meeting.
The next phase of the exam is scheduled for 24 July. Nearly 6.5 lakh students have already taken the medical entrance test in the first phase of NEET held on 1 May. With the ordinance being promulgated, students of state government boards will not have to sit for NEET on 24 July. They, however, will have to become part of the uniform entrance exam from the next academic session.
The exam will be applicable for those applying for Central government and private medical colleges. The Supreme Court earlier ruled that the students would have to appear for NEET starting this academic session for admissions into medical or dental colleges in the country.