President Mukherjee Signs Ordinance Keeping State Boards Out of NEET This Year

File photo of Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi January 19, 2009. Credit: Reuters

File photo of Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi January 19, 2009. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee today signed an ordinance to keep state boards out of the ambit of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), a common entrance test for MBBS and dental courses, for this year.

The president promulgated the ordinance this morning after health ministry officials returned with the file addressing queries previously raised by him, official sources said.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was at the president’s secretariat early this morning, along with top health ministry officials to respond to clarifications sought by the president.

The president, who left for China today on a four-day State visit, was sent the ordinance on May 21.

After an ordinance concerning Uttarakhand was overturned by the Supreme Court earlier this month, the president’s secretariat was cautious when raising pointed queries, as it was virtually taking on the apex court’s order which directed the government to hold medical exams under NEET for both government and private colleges, in addition to making it applicable to state boards.

The president was briefed by Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda yesterday, mainly on three issues pertinent to this matter – different exams of state boards, syllabi and regional languages.

This was followed by another briefing by officials, after which the file was taken back by the health ministry last night and returned this morning with additional information and legal advice.

The ordinance on NEET, cleared by the union cabinet on Friday last, is aimed at “partially” overturning the Supreme Court order which attempted to address the multiple medical entrance tests administered by states and private colleges, as well as allegations of corruption.

The court had directed that a common entrance test– NEET– would be held across India for MBBS and dental courses. However, state governments objected to its implementation from this year, as early as July, saying that students affiliated to state boards would find it tough to appear for the test due to a lack of time to prepare for the syllabus. Additionally, this uniform test would pose a language barrier to many students, who would then be at a disadvantage compared to those who have followed the central board.

More than 15 states were opposed to NEET and had raised these issues during the recent state health ministers’ meeting.

After the Supreme Court turned down the states’ plea, the Centre decided to take the ordinance route.

Nearly 6.5 lakh students have already taken the medical entrance test in the first phase of NEET held on May 1. The next phase of the exam is scheduled for July 24.

With the ordinance being promulgated, students of state government boards will not have to sit for NEET on July 24.

They will, however, have to become part of the uniform entrance exam from the next academic session.

The exam will be applicable to those applying to Central government and private medical colleges.