Supreme Court asks AIIMS to defer INI CET 2021
New Delhi: Noting that the MBBS doctors who seek higher education presently, are serving COVID duties and the fixation of the PG entrance exam date amid this situation is arbitrary, the Supreme Court has directed the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to defer the INI CET 2021 exam, which was scheduled to be held on June 16, by at least a month.
"Considering that many of the candidates intending to appear in the exam are in covid duty and remote areas, we are of the opinion that June 16 date is arbitrary. We direct the exam to be postponed by one month, Needless to say exam can be held anytime after the expiry of one month," the Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shah ordered.
The AIIMS has been directed to give an appropriate date for the exam being conducted for admission to postgraduate courses (MD, MS, MDS, DM and MCH courses) in leading Government Medical Institutes in the Country including AIIMS, JIPMER, and NIMHANS. More than 80,000 candidates are set to appear for the examination for around 800 seats.
The Supreme Court was hearing the petitions- one filed by a group of 23 MBBS doctors and another filed by Indian Medical Association, Medical Student Network (Chhattisgarh Chapter) along with 35 serving doctors currently serving in Covid duties challenging the conduct of the INI CET examination on 16th June 2021 and seeking directions for its postponement.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that the MBBS doctors sought the deferment of the exam citing that the decision of conducting INI CET with notice only 19 days before the exam contradicts the Prime Minister's earlier announcement that the students will be given at least one month's time in order to prepare for the said examination.
Further citing that conducting the examination amidst the pandemic would endanger the lives of the candidates, the plea stated, "The conducting of this examination is resulting in endangering the lives of thousands of doctors who are frontline workers in different hospitals which is a clear negation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India."
The petition further pointed out that many of the doctors were not fully vaccinated and some of them even have not received the first dose. It also referred to the instances of postponing Class 10 and 12 exams of various boards like CBSE, ICSE, and others amidst the pandemic.
The petitioners also expressed their concern regarding the examination centers, which are not same as the candidate's place of work in many cases and could result in problems for the candidates to reach their respective center amidst travel restrictions.
However, the doctors have clarified that they are not against writing the examination but only have objections to the exam being conducted on June 16. Contending that AIIMS comes within the definition of "state" under Article 12 of the Constitution and hence a writ petition under Article 32 is maintainable against it, the plea sought directions upon AIIMS to postpone the INICET examination considering the Covid situation.
"In the prevailing circumstances due to COVID-19, the conducting of this examination is resulting in building up pressure on the graduate doctors from across India to sit for the examination on 16th June 2021, when under the present circumstances the Board examinations (Central Board of Secondary Education 10th and 12th Grade) and other professional examinations have been either canceled or postponed," the petition stated. The plea further mentioned, "...interference of the court is warranted because the students who have filled up the form but are treating COVID-19 patients on a daily basis and therefore are at a huge risk of contracting COVID-19and thereby ousted from taking the examination".
Now, when the matter was taken up today, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that it was a matter affecting the right to life and the right to vocation of the doctors. The Counsel told the bench about the appeal made by the Prime Minister to MBBS doctors to join COVID-duties and the assurance made by him to postpone the NEET exam. The NEET exams scheduled in May were postponed to August too. If that be the case, why can't INI CET be also postponed, Mr Datar asked. He argued, "We have signed bonds with the state government and we can't leave without notice. CA, NCLAT etc are all cancelled or postponed. My suggestion is that it may be conducted with NEET PG, as most students write both exams".
Upon deliberation, Justice Shah asked the counsel of AIIMS, "Why this examination when NEET is postponed".
"Situation in Delhi has improved but in other places figures are high. cant this postponed by a month," asked Justice Banerjee, as quoted by Bar and Bench.
Advocate Dushyant Parashar, appearing for AIIMS, submitted that told the bench that the prospectus was issued in May and the candidates were aware of the exams from May 1. "Staying the exam will create an unprecedented crisis. 1000 doctors will be recruited by this exam. these petitioners can apply in the next September session exam. If the stay is granted there will be no doctors," said Parashar.
The AIIMS counsel also informed the bench that INI CET is held twice a year and if the petitioners have any difficulty in attending the June exams, they can appear for the next exams scheduled in October-November. He said arrangements for exams are ready in across 32 states and the COVID situation has improved in many parts of the country, reports LiveLaw
"These doctors are on COVID duty. How will they appear for exam," Justice Shah demanded.
The bench insisted that the exams should be deferred at least a month's time. Although the AIIMS's counsel sought time till Monday to get instructions, the bench refused, saying it was too close to the date of the exams and ultimately ordered AIIMS to postpone the INI CET 2021 by at least a month given the COVID pandemic situation.