[NEET PG Super Speciality 2021] Centre defends pattern change, proposes to postpone exam to January 2022
The Central government has told the Supreme Court that it has decided to postpone the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) PG Super Speciality exam 2021 (NEET SS 2021) for January 11-12, 2022 [Prateek Rastogi v. National Board of Examinations].
The decision was taken to ensure that candidates get sufficient time to prepare in view of the changed pattern for the exam.
"All the authorities in participation in the above-mentioned meetings, while coming to the above-mentioned conclusion had also felt and observed that candidates must not feel that they have not been extended sufficient time to prepare for the examination under the Revised Scheme.. In the circumstances it was decided that NEET-SS be deferred by a period of two months and be held on January 10-11, 2022 so as to provide ample time to all of them for their preparation for the entrance examination under the revised scheme," the affidavit filed by the Centre before the top court said.
In its affidavit, the government defended its decision to make changes to the pattern stating that the same was done to ensure that seats do not go unfilled.
"On the basis of the experience in the past resulting into a significant number of precious super speciality medical courses seats remaining unfilled and going waste, the examination pattern has been modified, whereby it is reasonably expected that more number of these seats will get filled up and the wastage would be minimized," the government submitted.
The NEET SS 2021 was earlier slated to be held on November 13 and 14. The dates for the exam were notified on July 23 but the pattern change was announced on August 31 by way of an information bulletin.
The plea by 41 PG qualified doctors challenged this abrupt last-minute changes contending that the same was done to favour general medicine candidates.
The plea filed through advocate Javedur Rahman said that aspirants 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 i.e. in 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 exam.
The Supreme Court had during the hearing of the matter on September 27, prima facie agreed with the petitioner and pulled up the National Board of Examination (NBE), National Medical Commission (NMC) and Central government for making last minute changes to the syllabus.
It had then asked the respondents to file their responses pursuant to which the Centre filed its present affidavit.
In the affidavit, the government said that the revised pattern is in the interest of the students.
"UOI, NMC and the NBE– in the meetings held on 28th, 29th and 30th September 2021 – in the same spirit. Pursuant to these meetings held on 28th, 29th and 30th September, it was felt / observed that since the revised scheme / pattern is in fact in the interest of students and medical education, it would deserve to be adopted and permitted to be implemented through the ensuing NEET – SS," the affidavit said.
Regarding the change in the scheme, the government submitted that in the previous scheme / pattern while 40% weightage was given to the candidates’ knowledge in the eligible feeder broad specialty/ies, 60% weightage was given to his knowledge in the super specialty that he wished to take admission in. Through the modified pattern now adopted, the candidate would be tested to the extent of 100% on a domain which he or she has already studied, it was contended.
In other words, the previous pattern had been compelling the candidates to study outside the course and curriculum of his / her broad specialty i.e. MD / MS / DNB which they have already qualified, the candidate were also getting compelled to undertake studies for taking the entrance test – the curriculum of the super-speciality courses which they would undergo after their admission in those superspeciality courses.
"The logical and rational approach that the candidates should be tested on the basis of the curriculum / course / training which these candidates had secured during the period of their postgraduate course, has been adopted. In this process, the question papers are prepared giving 100% weightage to the knowledge of the candidates which they were expected to secure during the period which they had spent in successfully completing their post-graduate courses of MD / MS and the courses equivalent thereto," the reply read.
The case will be taken up for hearing tomorrow.