Why NEET PG when someone is Competent enough to be Doctor? PIL at Bombay HC seeks scraping of entrance test
Mumbai: Pointing out towards the acute shortage of doctors faced by the country amidst the pandemic, a Mumbai-based media consultant has recently approached the Bombay High Court and filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking the scraping of the postgraduate medical entrance test, i.e. NEET PG.
Apart from questioning the need for the entrance test for specialization when a person is competent enough to be a doctor, the PIL has also pointed out how many higher scoring candidates in NEET PG fail to avail Postgraduate medical education as they cannot afford private education.
As an alternative, the petitioner has also submitted that after due discussion with a number of experts from legal, educational and medical fields, it could be easily concluded that doubling the PG medical seats would be easier if the NEET PG entrance examination was scrapped and the willing MBBS graduates could pursue PG medical courses on their free will instead.
Thus the petitioner has requested the HC bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice Girish Kulkarni to either direct Central Government to discontinue the entrance test or double the intake capacity of PG courses.
National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) PG is currently the gateway for the MBBS students in India for pursuing their PG medical education. It is an eligibility-cum-ranking examination prescribed as the single entrance examination for admission to various MD/MS and PG Diploma Courses as per Section 61(2) of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 read with 10 (D) of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.
No other entrance examination, either at the state or the Institution level, shall be valid for entry to MD/MS/PG Diploma courses. Qualifying NEET-PG is mandatory for entry to MD/MS/PG Diploma courses under various Universities/ Institutions in the country. NEET PG is mandatory even for foreign nationals seeking admission in medical courses in India.
However, the Apex medical education regulator, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has proposed to do away with the test and introduce the National Exit Test (NExT) as the gateway to PG medical education for all the interested candidates in India.
As per the latest media report by Hindustan Times, the recent PIL before the Bombay High Court has questioned the entrance test itself and the petitioner has argued that the exam, i.e. NEET PG has restricted the number of PG medical seats to 43,000 - half of 86,000 MBBS seats.
He has also pointed out that when the UG medical courses are available at 542 medical colleges across the nation, PG courses are provided by only 64 colleges. This shortage of seats has also resulted in corruption in the admission process, he has contended.
"The petitioner is of the opinion that if all 86,000 students who have completed MBBS, having studied for 5-and-a-half years, to move forward and do post graduation in the discipline of their choice, in the same medical college as in-house students, it would provide a large contingent of medical professionals," stated the petition.
It added that the petitioner has "after a lot of study through discussion with cross sections of persons, private and government, connected to medical education, has come to the conclusion that there is no need for NEET-PG to be conducted for a doctor who had graduated, licensed and registered as a doctor with the Medical Council of India."
"They are declared doctors and have the right to study higher and practice and yet they are forced by the system to go back to the next step of NEET where they began their carriers 5-and-half years ago," further mentioned the petition.
Mid Day adds that the petitioner has given more importance on the MBBS curriculum and has contended that the admission to PG courses should be based on the performance of a student during their MBBS course.
Questioning the test itself, the counsel for the petitioner has asked the HC, "It is a valid question to ask–why NEET-PG when the person is already competent enough to be a doctor?"
"After completing any other course at degree level; there are no mandatory entrance tests for admissions to PG courses in the same stream or sector. Then why should this be mandatory in medical education?" further questioned the petitioner.
He has also pointed out the flaws with the existing NEET PG test, which is very costly and has contended, "In my research, I have come across cases where a higher score candidate is still waiting for admission as a government college seat is the only option for him with financial constraints but another with lower score in NEET-PG is able to get a seat in private college with financial support from parents."
Stressing upon the need to automatically decide the admission for PG medical courses, the counsel for the petitioner was quoted saying by Mid Day, "If anything, the pandemic has made us realize that we are in dire need of doctors. With NEET PG we have several trained doctors with MBBS degrees sitting at home preparing for this test. Instead, if admissions to PG are automatically decided; they can begin their work at the linked hospitals. This will be a win for all."