NEET PG for armed forces doctors: AFT provides relief, Allows them to attend counselling
Chandigarh: In a major relief to the armed forces doctors willing to pursue PG medical education, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has given them permission to take part in the counselling process, which they were not being allowed to as they had submitted their online applications after the deadline fixed by Directorate General Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS).
According to Tribune, some officers were not permitted to appear for the counselling because their online applications were initiated or received after the date specified by the DGAFMS apparently because they were posted in remote areas or other establishments which were not connected with the Army's network. Further, the dates for NEET PG counselling had been extended due to the COVID pandemic.
Such a relief has been given by the Tribunal taking note of the fact that the deadline had been fixed by DGAFMS on the basis of the presumption that NEET-PG entrance examination would be held on January 10, 2021.
The matter reached the Tribunal by four Army doctors, including two women.
Doctors, who are posted at Armed forces after their MBBS are also required to clear NEET PG entrance test, held by the National Board of Examinations (NBE) if they wish to pursue PG medical education in military hospitals. In fact, they are required to register on the NBE portal as well for this.
As per the latest media report by The Tribune, when on September 16, last year, NBE had made announcement regarding the NEET PG exam on January 10, 2021, DGAFMS had also issued a letter on October 23, 2020 for selecting armed forces doctors for post-graduation. In that letter, DGAFMS had clarified that the application by the candidates should reach it by November 30, 2020.
However, NEET-PG 2020 exam got postponed indefinitely on October 31, 2020 and consequently, the last date for online registration also got extended by NBE. On the other hand, there was no change in the application deadline by DGAFMS.
Referring to this, the counsel appearing for some of the petitioners, Col Indra Singh Sen (retd) argued, "The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Indian Medical Commission and the National Board of Examination were reasonable and sensitive enough to repeatedly postpone not only the date of NEET exam but also the date for online registration due to the unprecedented situation, but DGAFMS struck to its original date unseasonably."
"More so, another officer whose case for rejected on account of delay was later permitted," he added.
"The cut-off date of November 30, 2020, was relevant only when the NEET exam was to be held in January 2021. After it got postponed to September 2021, it was absolutely unreasonable and arbitrary to stick to the original cut-off date. Moreover, DGAFMS released its selection list only in April 2021," further pointed out Col Sen.
While considering the plea, previously, the Tribunal bench comprising Justice Rajendra Menon and Lt Gen PM Hariz had held in its interim order dated 01.12.2021, "We find the attitude of the respondents in dealing with the matter is not acceptable and is contrary to the law governing the principles of natural justice at this period of pandemic."
"In the meanwhile, the applicant shall be permitted to participate in the counselling subject to final decision of the petition," the Tribunal bench had noted earlier.
During the hearing of the case on December 3, the Gp Capt Karan Singh Bhati, learned Senior CGSC, informed the Tribunal that based on the interim order passed and the observations made by the bench on December 1, the Competent Authority had reconsidered the entire issue and for the present, as a matter of principle, has decided that not only the applicant before this Tribunal in this case but also other similarly situated employees would be permitted to participate in the counseling.
"However, this is only an exception granted to this case in the peculiar facts and circumstances that have arisen and should not be treated as a precedent," clarified the bench.
To view the interim order, click on the link below.
To view the December 3 order, click on the link below.