The union cabinet on Friday gave its nod to an ordinance to defer, for one year, implementation of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), which has been made mandatory for medical entrance across India following strong objections from some states, sources said.
The ordinance, which puts on hold the Supreme Court’s May 9 ruling ordering the implementation of NEET from this year, was cleared in a cabinet meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, official sources said.
This step of the government has come a great relief for thousands of students who were preparing for medical examination across the country this year, but the Congress said this was a highly “inappropriate” decision and it should be reconsidered.
“It is the most unfortunate, most inappropriate decision taken by the government to issue the ordinance. There is no other reason other than that the powerful medical lobby has influenced this government and they have succumbed to it,” said senior Congress leader P. C. Chacko.
“Cabinet decision should be reconsidered and we do not subscribe to the decision taken by the government,” he added.
Many states and members of parliament, across spectrum of political parties, had raised concern over the apex court ruling. Amid protests by the students and states, union Health Minister J.P. Nadda also convened a consultation meeting of the state health ministers over the issue.
Earlier, declining the plea by some states to allow them to hold common entrance tests under their respective laws and that of the private medical colleges, the Supreme Court refused to modify its April 28 order making NEET mandatory for admission to under-graduate medical courses across the country for the academic year 2016-2017.
The Medical Council of India and the Dental Council of India had in December 2010 amended the then statutory regulations to provide for a single NEET for admission to the MBBS/BDS course.
However, the notification was struck down on July 18, 2013, by the apex court, which in a split verdict of 2:1, held that NEET was flawed both procedurally and substantially.
The NEET was restored on April 11, 2016, when the five-judge constitution bench of Justice A. R. Dave, Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice R.K. Agrawal, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice R. Banumathi, recalled the July 18, 2013 order.