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[button link=”#” size=”small” target=”self”]Source: Indiaeducationreview.com[/button]

A common entrance test for all medical and dental colleges across the country has got a body blow following the recent Supreme Court ruling over National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) conducted by the Medical Council of India (MCI). A SC three-judge bench comprising of former Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir and two other justices with a majority of 2:1 vote, termed the NEET “illegal”. The apex court was of the view that MCI does not have “any authority to conduct such tests”. As per the MCI Act, it can only frame guidelines for examinations.

However, the centre is contemplating to file a review petition in the Supreme Court against the Bench’s verdict.

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Union Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad has said that the legal recourse was the only option available and his Ministry has sought legal opinion on the judgment.

“We are very upset and have asked officials to study the order to decide on the future course of action,” he said.

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Azad further added that the Supreme Court merely said that the MCI should not conduct exams but did not say who else should conduct the tests.

Some experts are of the view that the issue is not just about eligibility, it was also related to entrance and based on the marks attained in the exam. Experts backed the SC judgment saying that MCI decided which college a student would attend, which they termed as an “imperial overreach” of the MCI.

As far as the students are concerned, the SC judgment has upset the preparation of students for next year’s examinations.

India Education Review discussed the issue with all the stake holders – MCI, heads of the medical institutions and most importantly, students and their parents.

MCI

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A senior official of the MCI, familiar with the developments, who did not wish to be named told IER, “The matter is being examined thoroughly and if necessary, we will file a review petition in the Supreme Court.”

However, he was uncertain about the time frame to file the review petition.

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“We need to examine the SC ruling and get a legal opinion on the same. Any further course of action will be decided then,” he added.

Medical institutions

[two_third]Dr, K Mohan Das, Vice Chancellor, Kerala University of Health Sciences opined that NEET as a single entrance for admission to all medical colleges in the country was a “good idea”.

“This was also in the benefit of the students as they were required to give only one exam for admissions rather than going to different parts of the country for giving entrance exams. It would have also controlled the corrupt practices involved in the admission at many of the medical colleges,” he said.

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Dr Suresh Bhat, Professor, Government Medical College, Kottayam, also echoed the same and said, “This is a very bad judgment for the whole medical education sector. It will badly affect the students as each and every private college will start holding their examination and students will have to move from one place to other and pay huge amount of money.”

A senior professor associated with a top government medical college in the national capital said, “The government ought to seek legal opinion to challenge the Judgment and if needed should file review petition or bring amendment via a bill in Parliament. Although, I suspect this might not happen given the various media reports that many politicians invest their money in these dubious medical and engineering colleges where the discretionary powers are misused for making most money via corrupt practices in admissions.”

“NEET is the need of current scenario. Very difficult to appear in many exams, it’s mental and physical torture for the students. Many exams conducted by private parties are fixed, Supreme Court decision is a backward step and really painful to the students and give happiness to the corrupted managements,” he added.

Students and parents

Rahul Sharma, a student who appeared for the NEET in New Delhi this year, said, “The multiple tests in different colleges at different times in different states had made the students run from place to place for different exams; hence one test common for all India level was a much required relief for these students. With this SC order what next? Will the students have to run from place to place and give different tests at many Centres?”

He lamented that it was same court (SC) which last year directed all India common entrance to reduce hardship of students and merit base admission.

“If AIEEE, IIT and IIM can give admission and than why not MBBS,” he asked.

A worried student, Shashank Mohan preparing for the NEET 2014 said, “While MCI is notorious for many corruption scandals, I still think that there must be a single benchmark for admissions in the medical colleges. Otherwise, those with money would be able to ‘buy’ seats from the ‘management quota’ etc. And we will have nothing to do, which is wrong.”

The Takeaway

SC gave its verdict on the MCI Act which says that it has no authority to hold NEET for admission to medical colleges. In principle, none can differ, for MCI is a regulatory authority for medical profession. However, common entrance tests for higher learning, specially for professional streams is an excellent idea worthy of implementation through a well thought out mechanism where test scores can be considered in conjunction with scholastic and other achievements and college specific parameters.

Common entrance tests save money to both aspirants and the society, reduce stress, mitigate chances of corrupt practices and cut down profiteering in professional education, if, of course, properly run.

If the government does not takes some concrete steps to save NEET soon, then once again the students will have get into the same confusing process of admission tests. If the MCI is not entitled to hold the NEET then the government can consider by bringing a Bill in the Parliament and can empower it. Government could also consider asking the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) to conduct NEET as it already conducts JEE for entrance to various engineering colleges.

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