Young doctors are not footballs to be played around: SC tells Centre

Court pulls up Centre, National Board of Examinations, and the National Medical Commission for making the last-minute changes in the exam pattern of NEET-SS

Last week the Supreme Court issued notice to the government and National Medical Council on a plea by post-graduate doctors over the alleged last-minute change in exam pattern for NEET-SS 2021 | Photo: iStock

The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Centre, the National Board of Examinations, and the National Medical Commission for making the last-minute changes in the exam pattern of Postgraduate National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Super Specialty (NEET-SS) 2021.

“Don’t treat these young doctors as footballs in game of power,” the Supreme Court bench said, as quoted by Live Law.

The court asked the Centre to meet with the National Medical Commission and National Board of Examination to discuss the issue of last-minute changes in the exam pattern of NEET SS 2021.

“Young doctors cannot be at the mercy of the insensitive bureaucrats and cannot be treated like a football,” the bench stated.

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Last week the Supreme Court issued notice to the government and National Medical Council on a plea by post-graduate doctors over the alleged last-minute change in exam pattern for NEET-SS 2021.

A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice BV Nagarathna had sought a response from the Centre and NMC.

The petition by 41 postgraduate doctors from across the country, who aspire to become super-specialists by cracking NEET-SS 2021, sought direction for striking down the changes in the exam pattern, ANI reported.

The plea challenged the move of the government on the ground of lack of authority as well as being manifestly arbitrary.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, had submitted that notification for the examination, scheduled to be held in November this year, was issued on July 23. However, on August 31, 2021, another notification was issued changing the pattern of the exam when only two months remained before NEET-SS 2021 exams scheduled to be conducted on November 13 and 14.

Divan contended that the exam pattern for the NEET-SS course has been altered only to favour those who have done post-graduation in general medicine at the cost of other disciplines. The plea stated that as per the prevailing pattern, which has been in existence from 2018 to 2020, 60 per cent marks were allotted from questions in the super-specialty while 40 per cent distributed for questions from feeder courses.

Also read: NEET: What Constitution says about role of Centre, States in education

However, as per the new pattern, the entirety of questions for the critical care super speciality will be drawn from general medicines, it added.

Divan argued that students from other disciplines were at a great disadvantage and the authority should not have brought these changes after the exam notification was issued and after the students had begun their preparations.

It is a well-settled principle that the rules of the game cannot be changed after it has started, he added.

“They have all along been preparing in terms of the pattern that has been in place for the last three years, especially because on earlier occasions — 2018 and 2019 when changes in the pattern/scheme were proposed to be made, the changed pattern/scheme was made public almost six months prior to the NEET-SS exams to ensure availability of ample time to the students for making preparations,” the plea further stated.

Meanwhile, directions have been issued to apprise the Supreme Court of the decision that would be taken by the concerned authorities in the meeting. Matter to be heard next Monday, i.e. October 4, Live Law reported.

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