New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday, pulling up the Centre, on the changes in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Super Specialty (NEET-SS) 2021 pattern, said the impression and message which will go out is that medical education and medical regulation in the country has become a business and it appears the entire haste is for filling the vacant seats.
A bench headed by justice D.Y. Chandrachud said: “The impression we get is, that the medical education has become a business and medical regulation has also become a business”. The bench also comprising justices Vikram Nath and B.V. Nagarathna said this would become a tragedy for medical education in the country.
The bench told Centre’s counsel, “If there is obduracy on your part, arms of law are long enough to prevent that”. The bench noted that usually seats are vacant never in government colleges, rather it is always private colleges. “We have a surmise, that the seats in government colleges are not lying vacant. It is a reasonable surmise. It appears that the entire haste is for filling the vacant seats”, it noted.
The bench, in more than two-hour long hearing, emphasized that the interest of students is far higher than that of the institutions and private institutions have made investments, and in this scenario, a balance needs to be struck.
The bench noted, “Now all questions are from general medicine. What this does is privileging students who have done general medicine at the cost of all other feeder specialties?”
On the aspect of syllabus change, the bench told the National Board of Examinations (NBE) counsel, “what was the hurry. You have an examination pattern which had been going on from 2018 to 2020…”. The bench told the Centre to consider restoring the old syllabus, and bring change from next year. Giving a day’s time to Centre’s counsel, the bench said: “think over and fall in line”.
The bench will continue to hear the matter on Wednesday. Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appeared for the Centre and senior advocate Maninder Singh appeared for NBE. The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it has decided that the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) Super Speciality exam for 2021 can be deferred by a period of two months and be held on January 10-11, 2022.
Responding to a plea against the syllabus for the (NEET) PG Super Speciality exam 2021, the Centre said: “In terms of the revised scheme, the candidates are going to be tested/adjudged on the curriculum which they have already studied in their post-graduation course and have qualified for the final examination of their respective universities based on the same curriculum. Therefore, the modified scheme has not mandated the applicant candidates to study something different from which they have not studied already”.
The Centre’s affidavit was filed in response of a plea by Prateek Rastogi and 40 postgraduate qualified doctors, who challenged the abrupt last-minute changes, contending that they were made to favour general medicine candidates.