Lok Sabha approves NEET Bill
Despite an AIADMK walkout, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016 mandating the conduct of a single common exam for medical and dental courses from next academic session. The new measure will also cover private colleges. It replaced the Government ordinances which had called for the implementation of NEET from this session.
In 2009, Dr. Ketan Desai, Director–Medical Council of India, initiated the demand to have a common entrance test across India. The government conceptualized the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), a qualifying entrance examination for medical students aspiring to study MBBS, BDS or postgraduate course (MD/MS) in a private or government medical college. The first NEET was to be held on 5 May'13.
In 2012, implementation of NEET-UG was opposed by Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu because of variation between NEET and state boards' syllabi. In 2013, the SC ruled that Medical Council of India's (MCI) move to hold NEET for medical admissions was 'invalid'. MCI recommended a joint proposal of MCI and Health Ministry to have 'Common Entrance Test' for medical courses in 2015.
In Apr'16, reversing its 2013 order, the Supreme Court passed an order for the implementation of NEET for medical courses across India. SC insisted that separate entrances should make way for the NEET from the 2016-17 sessions itself. However, the SC said that it would consider a plea, after the Government raised concerns over students' proficiency in Hindi or English from many states.
Reportedly, states might have a chance to conduct their medical entrances for 2016. Concerns over NEET implementation were expressed as there was no option for regional languages and varying syllabi of different states also created a problem. The Centre approved a NEET Ordinance that bypassed the Supreme Court's order partially. Once passed, it was likely that the law would be challenged in the SC.
President Pranab Mukherjee signed the Ordinance on NEET after seeking information from the Health Ministry to make a final decision on implementation of NEET. The states now have the option to conduct their entrances (for 2016) instead of implementing National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET). Admissions for undergraduate medical courses would be made through NEET from 2017; states can now hold entrances in six vernacular languages.
Health Minister JP Nadda said that "all private medical colleges and deemed universities will come under the ambit of NEET. For postgraduate courses, the exam will be held under NEET for 2017-18 session in December this year."
Vyapam scam whistleblower Anand Rai moved the Supreme Court, challenging the recently promulgated ordinance diluting the apex court order on NEET. Besides seeking quashing of the ordinance, the plea has also sought a stay on the operation of the ordinance. The petition said the Government's changing stance on NEET was indicative of "malafide and ill-intent towards the process of admission of students."
The Supreme Court refused to give grant an interim stay on the Centre's NEET ordinance which exempts states from holding the NEET exam till 2017. The apex court said there was no need for an interim order on the issue as the Centre has not 'denied' NEET. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab are the 7 states exempted until 2017.