New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to consider opening up phase two of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) to students who appeared for the common entrance exam on May 1.
The court’s query to the CBSE for a second chance to the students was triggered by submissions from Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar, representing the Centre, that the court’s April 28 order converting AIPMT to NEET, and making the latter a common entrance exam for both all-India and State rank lists, would have caught many students off guard.
A Bench led by Justice Anil R. Dave sought the CBSE’s response on whether it could accommodate at least 30 lakh candidates, if students who appeared on May 1 were allowed a second chance on July 24.
The court also asked the Medical Council of India to give suggestions.
Students would have treated AIPMT with less seriousness until the April 28 order, as it offered them only 15 per cent seats earmarked for the all-India quota. They would have instead concentrated more on the ongoing State entrance examinations.
The Apex Court on the other hand ruled out separate medical admission tests by private colleges or their associations for admission to MBBS and BDS courses, saying it cannot be allowed with the advent of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).
The Apex Court however allowed the state governments — which have regulations and statutes for holding their common entrance tests — to go ahead with their separate exams only for this year as a one-time measure.
When a counsel asked whether state governments should go ahead with separate exams, the court observed: “We have not stayed the relevant regulations of the States [to hold entrance exams]. But NEET is in operation.” The bench will further hear the case on Friday.
Senior advocate P.P. Rao, appearing for Andhra Pradesh, contended that NEET could not apply to the State in view of the protection and special status granted under Article 371 D of the Constitution.
He also relied upon the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, to claim that the State could continue with the existing arrangement for admission to medical and dental colleges for 10 years. He said no student from Andhra Pradesh had appeared in the May 1 examination.
The Solicitor-General, however, said the States did not lose their power to prepare their own merit lists from the all-India NEET rank of successful candidates. He submitted that admissions would be done as per the criteria prevailing in States.
The S-G also countered apprehensions raised by States like Gujarat and Maharashtra that NEET discriminated against vernacular students, stating that the objective of NEET was to maintain an “international standard.”
In his submission, Kumar attempted to dispel the apprehension put forth by Gujarat, Maharashtra and other states on possible prejudice towards vernacular students.
Citing the guidelines, he said only those who passed their 10+2 with English are allowed to take the test.
“The objective is to maintain international standards and everybody has to have English as the core subject,” he said.
He maintained that distribution of seats and reservation norms will be taken up by the states.
“States can prepare their own merit list and the admission will be done as per the criteria prevailing in states,” he submitted.