Doctors demand change in NEET PG Exam Centres: SC junks plea
New Delhi: Observing that the pandemic situation has changed now and there are no travel restrictions either, the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by doctors who sought directions upon National Board of Examinations (NBE) and other concerned authorities to allow changing exam centre and postpone the entrance examination till the time NBE allows such option.
Although the Court had earlier issued notice to the authorities on the behalf of two petitioners who are in the last trimester of their pregnancies, the bench comprising of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi denied extending the judgment to the rest of the candidates.
Such a decision has been taken by the Court after it took into account that the COVID-19 situation in the country was improving and there are only a few travel restrictions in force.
Referring to the petitioners' argument that COVID cases are rising in Kerala and other parts of the country, the bench was quoted saying by Live Law, "the situation is different now. There are no restrictions in travelling. Now the flight from Delhi to Kochi is also booked" as it clarified that with the rapid increase in the vaccination, the severity of cases are less.
Medical Dialogues had recently reported that the Supreme Court bench while issuing notice to NBE and Central Government in respect of two pregnant candidates had observed that allowing exam centre choice to the NEET PG candidates is the least that could be done.
NEET-PG entrance examination was earlier scheduled to be held on April 18. However, considering the graveness of the second wave of the pandemic, the exam was postponed for four months, and the Prime Minister's Office had earlier announced that the exam would be held only after August 31.
Back in July, the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya confirmed that the exam would be held on September 11. Recently, NBE issued a notification where it allowed new candidates to register and apply for the test by extending the registration and edit window.
However, even though NBEMS had decided to extend the cut-off date for Internship completion to 30.09.2021, and had also allowed the already registered candidates to change their category and EWS status, it didn't allow any change in the examination centres for the pre-registered candidates.
Previously, the Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) in a letter to NBEMS had demanded that the Edit Window should be extended to everyone so that the candidates who had already applied for the exam gets to change their Exam Centers according to their current place of residence. This would help the already registered candidates avoid the hassle of travel to other States or Cities amidst the ongoing pandemic, FORDA had earlier pointed out.
Few doctors recently took the matter to the Supreme Court and pointed out that even though the new candidates were allowed to choose the centers, the pre-registered candidates were barred from such privilege.
Filed through the Advocate on record Charu Mathur, the plea contended that previously when the candidates had opted for their examination centre, it was based on their nearest location to their centers as on April 18.
During the previous hearing, the Court had listened to the contentions of both the parties and had directed the counsel for the Centre and NBE to consider allowing the petitioners to change their centers.
As per the latest media report by Live Law, when the issue came up for hearing on Thursday, the bench clarified,
"We had only allowed the petitioners who were in their advanced stage of pregnancy but not we cannot give these petitioners the option. We made exception and granted relief to two women who were carrying and were in seventh and eighth month of their pregnancy, as it was impossible for them to travel, but this cannot be extended to everyone."
Responding to this, the counsel for the petitioner contended, "Why is there a discrepancy?The students who qualified in July are allowed to change but the students who qualified in March were not allowed to. We will expose young doctors to COVID. We have young students who are exposed in Covid duties. We are asking them to travel. See the absurdity of the notification."
However, denying entertaining the plea, the bench noted, "We are sorry. We can't entertain. Dismissed," after it pointed out that even the Supreme Court Bar Association was demanding restoration of complete physical hearing at the top court.
"People have been vaccinated. The severity is less now as compared to what the situation was in March and April. There are no restrictions either. How can we allow it? In Fact, the SCBA wants us to open doors for the Supreme Court. The flights are also operating from Delhi to Kerala also fully", Justice Lalit was quoted noting.