Health Ministry clears NEET for admission into medical colleges
Indian Express Excerpts: Union Health Minister J P Nadda has approved the Medical Council of India’s recommendation for an amendment to the Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act that will empower it to hold a nationwide common medical entrance test.
The health ministry has prepared a draft cabinet note to be circulated among the ministries.
The proposed amendment will pave the way for a one-country, one-medical entrance plan, for both undergraduate and postgraduate medical courses in all colleges, including private colleges and deemed universities.
MCI could either notify an existing examination, like the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT), as the common test or notify a new one.
Under the current Act, MCIs role is limited to finalising the medical curriculum, while the states and individual colleges can devise their own admission procedures. But in October last year, the MCI general body passed a proposal to amend the Act in order to empower it to conduct a common entrance test.
An earlier attempt to hold a common entrance test did not pass muster with the Supreme Court as it was undertaken by just notifying a change in the rules, without actually amending the Act.
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) (PG) was held in November-December 2012 and NEET (UG) in May 2013. About 80 petitions were filed by minority institutes, private colleges and some state governments, which went to the Supreme Court.
Quashing NEET in July 2013, a bench of then Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Vikramjit Sen and Anil Dave ruled: “The role assigned to the MCI under Sections 10A and 19A (1) of the 1956 Act vindicates such a conclusion. As an offshoot, we have no hesitation in holding that the Medical Council of India is not empowered to actually conduct the NEET.”
The MCI general body has now recommended to the government that it should be empowered to prescribe such a test — whether it is conducted by the National Board of Examinations, like in the case of NEET, or some other body is a call that can be taken later.
Students seeking admission to medical colleges — at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels — often need to criss-cross the country, appearing for numerous entrance tests. Sometimes, they allegedly have to pay huge sums as capitation fee. A common entrance test has been a long-standing demand of students, but has been opposed by private and minority institutes as well as some state governments.
The NEET plan too faced opposition right from the start. The original plan was to implement it for the 2012-2013 session but it had to be delayed because of opposition from states.
Giving in to their demands, the ministry agreed to conduct the test in six regional languages — Tamil, Marathi, Assamese, Bangla, Telugu and Gujarati — but private institutes still objected.
This time too, even as the ministry is in the process of seeking opinions from other ministries, sources said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has already written to Prime Minister opposing any such move. [Indian Express]
Historical Decision of MCI of common entrance test for all medical admissions
Dr K K Aggarwal
In the context of the gross difficulties that the learners were facing due to the multiple entrance test for admission to MBBS course conducted by the various examining authorities and the grievances thereof, the then President of Medical Council of India Dr. Ketan Desai had constituted a two man expert group to look into the entire issue in April, 2009.
The said expert committee in a detailed report bringing out the core issue to the fore that there were more than 90 entrance examinations conducted annually for admission to MBBS course for about 300 medical colleges in the country held during a specified period of time in accordance with the schedule of admissions prescribed by the appropriate regulation by the Medical Council of India in terms of the pronouncement made by the Hon'ble Supreme Court. As a result it was humanly impossible for a student to be availing the same for the constraints of time, travel and also affordability. Numerous complaints were received of irregularities, manipulations, cheating etc.
The committee therefore explicitly recommended that there should be a single / unitary National Eligibility Entrance Test to be conducted by a designated authority and the merit generated there from should be availed for all the admitting authorities to make admissions to the MBBS course on an Inter-se basis. This could be achieved by incorporating an appropriate amendment to the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 on an urgent basis, including through an appropriate issuance of an ordinance by the Government of India, so that the same could be effected from the subsequent academic session.
The said report was approved by the Executive Committee of the Council in May, 2009 and looking into the exigencies the same was circulated to all the members of the council and the approval was received by circulation in June, 2009. Upon resultant adoption by the General Body of the Council, the same was made known to the Government of India, and also the University Grants Commission urging upon them the importance and necessity of prompt execution of the said decision through incorporation of an amendment to the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 including through issuance of an appropriate ordinance by the Government of India. Dr. Ketan Desai who was the President of MCI at that point of time in 2009 mooted and steered this entire concept of National Eligibility Entrance Test. It is widely perceived by a large section that one of the key reasons of suffering of Dr. Desai was his relentless persuasion to implement National Eligibility Entrance Test .However, no action was taken by the Government of India, on the said recommendations.
In the meantime the Medical Council of India, was superseded by a Notification dated 15th May, 2010 by the Government of India, and was replaced by a nominated Board of Governors, who also did not venture in pursuing the said issue in any manner. In between a public interest litigation came to be filed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court who upon detailed hearing directed the Government of India, and the Medical Council of India to act on the said recommendation made by the Medical Council of India IN 2009 promptly.
As a result of the same, the Government of India, on the recommendations of the Board of Governors notified National Eligibility Entrance Test through issuance of a regulation under section 33 of the Indian Medical Council Act, without making amendment to the Indian Medical Council Act, inspite of the same having been recommended the then Medical Council of India after a gap of 2 years.
The said regulation was challenged before the Hon'ble Supreme Court by the various private managements in the country and virtually every senior lawyer was engaged for opposing the same and the net result was the said regulation was quashed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court by a majority decision of 2:1 primarily on the ground that the Medical Council of India did not have the said authority and jurisdiction as the Indian Medical Council Act does not provide for the same.
Upon the said pronouncement, the Government of India, preferred a review petition which is pending consideration before the Hon'ble Supreme Court since last two years and no pursuance on the said count has been undertaken. Strangely enough the Board of Governors did not even prefer a review petition although the notification towards the National Eligibility Entrance Test was notified by the Medical Council of India, which was being run by the Board of Governors at the said point of time in the year 2013.
In view of the same the re-constituted Medical Council of India at its General Body Meeting held on 1st October, 2015 reiterated its earlier decision that a unitary single Common Entrance Test should be held by a designated competent authority for admission to MBBS Course through incorporating an appropriate amendment to section 33 of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, whereby MCI with the approval of Government of India, would be vested with the appropriate authority to notify ‘Regulations’ for the purposes of conduct of the said test. The said resolution was further broadened by bringing out that admission to postgraduate courses should be made on the basis of merit generated at the Common Entrance Test for postgraduate admissions.
It was further resolved that in view of the exigencies both the recommendations may be given effect by the Government of India, by urging Hon'ble President of India to issue an ordinance towards the same, if need be. The resolution was not only unanimously adopted but the minutes thereof were confirmed in the meeting itself and the communication to the required effect has been sent to the Government of India, for the needful in larger public interest.