NEET SS 2021: Doctors Move Supreme Court Objecting to Abrupt Last Minute Changes
New Delhi: Objecting to the abrupt last-minute changes in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test – Super Specialization (NEET-SS), 2021 exam pattern/ scheme, around 41 qualified post-graduate doctors across India have approached the Apex Court against the National Board of Examinations (NBE) in Medical Sciences.
Filed through Advocate Javedur Rahman, the petition seeks to strike down the changes claiming that the changes are manifestly arbitrary and also there is lack of authority for implementing the changes, adds Live Law.
The matter would be heard by Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna.
NBE conducts NEET SS exam for admitting students to various DM/MCh courses. So, this exam is a qualifying-cum-ranking exam for securing admission to super specialty courses. Candidates with the possession of a post-graduation medial degree are allowed to write the exam.
As per the latest media report by Live Law, the doctors have 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.
Besides the doctors have also pointed out 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.
Thus, arguing that on the July 23 notice, there was no mention of any changes in the pattern, the petition stated, "The Petitioners were surprised to see the scheme of the NEET SS exams in Part 4, having undergone a complete change without any sort of advance intimation, with only two months left for the exam whilst the Petitioners have all along been preparing in terms of the extant pattern/scheme of the exam, having absolutely no reason to think that any such drastic change will be made so close to the specified date and without the lawful authority i.e. the Central Government directing to do so."
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.
So, claiming that the decision of NBE and NMC in changing the pattern was arbitrary, where they have given a complete go by to the specific directions of the Central Government in notifying the students in advance, the petition further read, "They have also departed from their own established practice in the past of notifying the pattern on the announcement of the dates. This is crucial since the date for the NEET-SS, 2021, was announced on 23.7.2021, which is more than three months before the scheduled date of the exam. The Respondent No. 1 chose to wait for more than a month and only on 31.8.2021 published the information bulletin with the impugned changed pattern/scheme of exam."
At this outset, reliance has 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 have 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.
Thus, the doctors have requested before the Apex Court to declare the Information Bulletin dated August 31 as illegal and also to clarify that only the Central Government is the competent authority for making any changes in the exam pattern.
Apart from this, the doctors have also prayed for restoring the pattern on which NEET SS 2018-2020 were conducted. As an alternative, the doctors have also requested the court so that the changes in the exam pattern do not get implemented in respect of NEET SS 2021 exam.