The Supreme Court on Monday, 27 February, dismissed two petitions that sought postponement of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)-PG 2023, scheduled for 5 March, citing insufficient time for preparations.
The petitioners, who are doctors, also argued for postponement, saying counselling would be held after 11 August, the extended cut-off date for MBBS students to complete the required internships.
Dismissing the petitions, the apex court observed that “there is nothing in this world to prevent somebody who has not made it to try again”.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati, representing the National Board of Examinations (NBE), told a bench of Justices SR Bhat and Dipankar Datta that admit cards for the exam have been issued on Monday as per the schedule and counselling would commence from July 15. She told the bench that the date of the exam had been announced last September.
“There is no date available in the near future with our technology partner to conduct the exam,” she submitted before the bench.
Also read: Union Health Ministry against delaying exam
Part of the evolutionary process
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for the petitioners, said the examination could be postponed by some weeks. He questioned whether the exam should be held in such a hurry since the counselling would be held after August 11.
Bhati countered saying administrative arrangements have been made for the scheduled exam.
Senior advocate Vivek Tankha, also representing the petitioners, said the subject and college would be important for each candidate.
Tankha also pointed out that each state used to hold separate medical entrance exams earlier.
“Right or wrong, all this is a part of the evolutionary process. Sometimes…it’s right, and sometimes it’s wrong. You will take it as it comes,” the bench said, adding, “We are not entertaining the petitions”.
On 24 February, the NBE told the apex court that around 2.09 lakh candidates have registered for the NEET-PG exam 2023 and no alternative date for conducting it may be available in the near future.
Cut-off date extended
The NEET-PG examination will be conducted as per schedule on 5 March, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told the Lok Sabha on 10 February. To ensure that no one is left out, the ministry has extended the cut-off date for all those MBBS students who are yet to complete their internship, he had said while replying to a question by a Congress member.
The ministry had extended the cut-off date from 30 June to 11 August for the NEET-PG aspirants to complete their mandatory one-year internship.
While hearing the pleas last week, the apex court had observed, “For those who are waiting for this (examination), it is mental torture.
“When we postpone a judicial exam, there is agony for the candidates who are preparing for it. The whole dynamics change,” the bench had said.
Sankaranarayanan had then argued that students are undergoing internships for 12 hours a day and there was no adequate time for them to prepare for the examination. The petitioners also argued that the issue has arisen because different states have different schedules for internships.
The petitioners, through their counsel Tanvi Dubey, pointed out that the NBE twice changed the eligibility criteria and claimed that it reflected oversight and mismanagement on its part of not consulting state medical bodies in advance, thereby giving no time for candidates to prepare.
Nobody cares! !
We r beaten up by patients..
Act is implemented when its COVID & then it is dismissed.
We expect a certain amt of respect, that’s it.
That v r listened whn smthn is bothering us.
But with so many insyders nt taking our syd.
We will neva b takn seriously .. pic.twitter.com/du64yPzAVc
— Dr. Rohan Krishnan (@DrRohanKrishna3) February 27, 2023
(With PTI inputs)