Political Parties Want NEET As Sole Medical Test to Be Deferred

New Delhi
Political Parties Want NEET As Sole Medical Test to Be Deferred

Major political parties today favoured deferring implementation of Supreme Court-ordered NEET as the sole medical and dental entrance test by at least a year as the Centre kicked off consultations on the issue, asserting the matter was essentially in "executive domain".

As the parties addressed concerns by several state governments, which wanted their exams to be the basis for admission for their 85 per cent quota seats for this year too, Union Health Minister J P Nadda made it clear private medical colleges and deemed universities cannot have their entrance exams and will have to take students through the NEET route.

After separate meetings with State Health Ministers and political parties on the Supreme Court order, the government said it was in favour of implementing NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) but it has to take on board the issues being raised by the states on holding a common gateway test from this year itself.

Separately, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while referring to protests by many states over the Supreme Court order asserted that what should be the manner of holding the examination across the country is essentially an executive matter as it is in policy domain.

While Nadda chaired the consultations with the state health ministers, Jaitley presided over the meeting with the political parties. The consultations came amid reports that Centre may bring an ordinance to bypass the apex court's ruling making NEET mandatory from this year.

"We are in favour of implementation of NEET. We are trying to address the issues of states. There are mainly three concerns of the states. All states have different syllabus and therefore a common syllabus needs to be formed so that students can prepare accordingly.

"Secondly, the exams should also be conducted in regional languages whereever required and lastly the ongoing exams of the states needs to be looked at," Nadda said after the all- party meet tonight.

Nadda said the Supreme Court's order was welcomed by almost all states but some of them flagged concerns over holding it in the current year itself

The Health Minister said the future course of action will be formulated "soon" as the Centre was committed to bringing in transparency in medical education system and remove alleged malpractices.

Earlier, during an interaction with the media, Jaitley said, "It is the case of some of the states that boards are unequal, their languages are dissimilar. Can those who are dissimilar in language and unequal be placed on the pedestal of quality and asked to give the same exam?

"I think this matter is essentially in the executive domain. We now have a Supreme Court judgement. We will have to see how we deal with that particular issue," Jaitley told reporters. Several states want NEET to be implemented only from the 2017-18 academic session.

Jaitley, however, said the judiciary and executive are "on the same page" over maintaining the fairness and integrity of exams at all costs.

Nadda said although most states are in favour of NEET "in principle", some have talked about logistical issues that are "impeding" its implementation.

"Most States are in favour of NEET in principle. However, some states have expressed that there are some logistics issues that are impeding its implementation, and therefore they have desired for some more time.

"We will need more discussions with the state governments on the NEET issue. Today, we had discussions on language, syllabus and state governments' concerns over state medical entrance examinations. We have to solve all the problems of the states before NEET is conducted across the country," Nadda said.

He said his Ministry will apprise the Supreme Court of the state governments' apprehensions on NEET only after arriving at a conclusion.

At the meeting, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain came out in full support of the Supreme Court order and requested the Centre to implement it at the earliest to bring in reform.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the NEET issue, amid concerns raised by parents and students. "I have assured parents that I will meet PM Modi on NEET issue. We are trying our best to resolve the issue," he told reporters in Mumbai.

The Supreme Court had ruled that starting this academic session, students would have to appear in NEET to seek admission to medical or dental colleges in the country.

The apex court order had implied that all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET and those examinations which had already taken place or were slated to be conducted separately stand scrapped.

Nadda said all states agreed that the NEET was a welcome move for bringing in transparency and removing several malpractices in the field of medical education.

However, during the meeting some states said the examination process was either underway or was soon to commence for admission to various state medical colleges.

Others referred to the issue of the syllabus of the CBSE being different from that of the State Examination Boards.

"The views and concerns of the states shall be collated and soon a future course of action shall be thought of. The Government is committed to bring about transparency in medical education and remove malpractices," he said.

INLD leader Dushyant Chautala said students should be given time to prepare for the common exam.

Chautala said that every party that was present at the meeting has opposed the NEET because the time is very short and students are also not prepared to handle the common entrance test as all state boards have different syllabus.

"Therefore we request the government to conduct NEET with the postgrad exam next year and come with a common syllabus so that every student has equal right in all regional languages which the government accepts in the coming year 2017-18," he added.

Earlier this week, the apex court had turned down a batch of appeals by states seeking to conduct their own medical admission tests and ruled that "only NEET would enable students to get admission to MBBS or BDS studies".

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