Last Minutes Changes in NEET SS 2021: Supreme Court Issues Notice to Centre, NMC
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has sought to know from the National Medical Commission (NMC) and the Central Government regarding the changes made by the National Board of Examinations (NBE) in the alleged last-minute changes in the question pattern of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET-SS) and has issued notices to them.
According to a recent report by TOI, this comes as the Apex Court was considering a petition filed by a bunch of postgraduate doctors who strongly objected to the changes in the exam pattern and pointed out that neither NBE nor NMC had the authority to make some changes and Central Government only had the power to do so.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, pointed out before the Apex Court bench that the changes in the exam pattern have put the students from disciplines other than general medicine at a disadvantageous position.
Issuing notice in the matter, the Apex Court bench comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice BV Nagarathna has posted the matter to be next heard on next Monday, i.e. September 27.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that around 41 qualified post-graduate doctors across India recently knocked the doors of the Supreme Court as they expressed their strong objection to the abrupt last minute changes in the NEET-SS 2021 exam pattern.
Filed through Advocate Javedur Rahman, the petition sought to strike down the changes claiming that the changes are manifestly arbitrary and also there is lack of authority for implementing the changes.
The doctors argued that even though the dates of the NEET SS 2021 exam was announced on July 23, 2021 the changed pattern was made known to the public after more than one month had passed, i.e. on August 31, 2021. Thus, the changes were made only two months before the exam which is scheduled to be held on November 13 and 14.
Further, it was also submitted that the previous pattern was in place for the last three years and previously, when changes were made in the pattern or the scheme, candidates were made aware of the same at least 6 months before the exam in order to make sure that the candidates get ample time to prepare.
Apart from this, the doctors have also contended that the NBE and the National Medical Commission (NMC) lack the required authority under any law for making changes in the pattern of the exam and in this respect, the doctors referred to the National Medical Commission Act, 2019.
"In fact, S.45 of the 2019 Act very clearly stipulates that the NMC shall be bound by the directions on questions of policy as the Central Government may give in writing to it from time to time. In the present case, the Central Government has not given in writing to the NMC any directions to change the exam pattern as it had indicated in its letter dated 25.1.2018 whereby the NBE was "requested to publish the above pattern for conducting NEET (SS) exam, 2018 and onwards till further orders." In the absence of any such 'further orders' by the Central Government, it is respectfully submitted that the exam pattern as provided therein would continue for each year, starting from "2018 and onwards", further mentioned the petition.
At this outset, reliance was also placed upon Regulation 9 of Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations 2000 to point out the Union Health Ministry, operative under the Central Government can only make the changes in the exam pattern or scheme of the exam.
Apart from this, the doctors also contended that the earlier pattern was designed to mainly test the aspirants in subjects they were interested in, the doctors have submitted before the court that the new pattern would make the aspirants take up subjects which they don't like.
"In the end, this system will produce doctors who do not have complete passion for the super speciality," argued the doctors in the petition.
As per the latest media report by the Times of India, Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners contended that the exam pattern for the NEET-SS course could only favor those who have pursued their PG medical education in general medicine at the cost of other disciplines.
It has been pointed out in the plea that the previous pattern which has been in place since 2018 made sure that 60 per cent marks were allotted to questions in the super-specialty while 40 per cent from feeder courses. However, the entirety of the questions for the critical care super specialty would be drawn from general medicines.
Pointing out that this change would put students from other specialties at a great deal of disadvantageous position, the counsel for the petitioner further argued that changes shouldn't be made after the exam notification was issued and student started their preparation. Rules of the game cannot be changed after the commencement of the game, he argued.
"They have all along been preparing in terms of the pattern that has been in place for the last three years, especially because on earlier occasions -- 2018 and 2019 when changes in the pattern/scheme were proposed to be made, the changed pattern/scheme was made public almost six months prior to the Neet-SS exams to ensure availability of ample time to the students for making preparations," further stated the plea.
Responding to these contentions, the Apex Court bench comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice BV Nagarathna sought response from Centre and NMC regarding the issue and posted the matter to be heard on September 27, reports TOI.