New Delhi: Union Health Minister J P Nadda tonight rubbished reports suggesting that the Centre is trying to scrap NEET after the Cabinet gave its nod for an Ordinance relating to this sole national medical entrance test, calling it "baseless".
"Today the Cabinet met. Many issues were discussed. We are consulting and seeing to it that a foolproof arrangement is made. Latest by tomorrow or day after tomorrow we will be coming to a conclusion. Cabinet has given opinion. We are working on it. We will come out with it soon," Nadda told PTI.
The Ordinance, which was cleared, is aimed at "partially" overturning a Supreme Court verdict which said all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET.
"Media reports have said that the Centre through an Ordinance is trying to finish NEET. This is baseless. NEET has been implemented. It is in existence. The first phase is over. The second phase will take place on July 24," he said.
The minister's statement came hours after the union cabinet gave its nod to an ordinance to defer, for one year, implementation of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), which has been made mandatory for medical entrance across India following strong objections from some states, sources said.
The ordinance, which puts on hold the Supreme Court’s May 9 ruling ordering the implementation of NEET from this year, was cleared in a cabinet meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, official sources said.
Many states and members of parliament, across spectrum of political parties, had raised concern over the apex court ruling. Amid protests by the students and states, union Health Minister J.P. Nadda also convened a consultation meeting of the state health ministers over the issue.
Congress attacked the Centre's decision to issue an Ordinance, alleging that it goes against the Supreme Court's verdict in the matter.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting that the demands for overturning the SC order on NEET had got to do with many politicians running medical colleges of their own.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the decision was "unfortunate".
Nadda said that there is no need to spread "misconceptions" about NEET being scrapped and asserted that it was the Centre which brought NEET and that is why it will be taken to its "conclusive end" so that students do not face any problem.
"I assure that the questions raised about the private medical colleges will be answered. We will come out with fool proof measures when it (Ordinance) comes into existence," he said, adding that the Centre wants NEET to be implemented in "letter and spirit".
Earlier, declining the plea by some states to allow them to hold common entrance tests under their respective laws and that of the private medical colleges, the Supreme Court refused to modify its April 28 order making NEET mandatory for admission to under-graduate medical courses across the country for the academic year 2016-2017.
The Medical Council of India and the Dental Council of India had in December 2010 amended the then statutory regulations to provide for a single NEET for admission to the MBBS/BDS course.
However, the notification was struck down on July 18, 2013, by the apex court, which in a split verdict of 2:1, held that NEET was flawed both procedurally and substantially.
The NEET was restored on April 11, 2016, when the five-judge constitution bench of Justice A. R. Dave, Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice R.K. Agrawal, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice R. Banumathi, recalled the July 18, 2013 order.