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National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test' (NEET)-sole entry point for MBBS course

Sunday, January 2, 2011

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
Chennai (TNN): In a controversial move, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has issued a notification making the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test' (NEET) the sole qualification for MBBS courses as well as post-graduate medical admissions in all medical colleges across the country.

The notification dated December 21 has stated that henceforth marks obtained in mathematics at the Plus Two level too would be considered for admission to the MBBS course.

An all-India as well as a state-wise merit list of candidates should be prepared on the basis of the marks obtained in the NEET, the notification stipulated, adding that the minimum marks in NEET for admission to an MBBS course would be 50%. It would be, however, 40% per cent for SC, ST and OBC candidates, and 45% for disabled persons. "No candidate, who has failed to obtain theminimum eligibility marks shall be admitted to MBBS course in the academic year (concerned)," the notification states. The notice, however, does not specify the minimum marks required to appear for NEET.

Reservation of seats shall be as per the laws prevailing in the states/union territories concerned, it said, adding that minimum marks could be lowered in case sufficient number of candidates are not available from reserved categories.

The notification said it was being issued with the "previous approval of the central government". What is most controversial about the notification is the fact that the NEET had been made the sole admission criterion for all' admissions, including those being offered by unaided minority/non-minority institutions.

Already, the All India Medical Association (AIMA) has shot off a letter to the union health ministry crying foul. The AIMA president, Deen Dayal Naidu, has said that the MCI Board had exceeded its brief in notifying the NEET when the matter was still pending before the Supreme Court. The plan for the common entrance test has been opposed in the apex court by some states as well as associations of unaided colleges.

"None of the 13 expressly defined roles of the MCI, as found in clause 33 of the Regulations, empowers the MCI to dabble with the admission procedure," said Naidu.

According to Dr Naidu, neither the union health ministry nor the union Cabinet had been taken into confidence by the MCI.

AL Somayaji, senior advocate and former additional advocate-general of Tamil Nadu, said the NEET was an "unreasonable restriction" on unaided educational institutions and it directly interferes with the rights of such institutions. Candidates from less literate states would be left out if such a national level test is held, he said.

Former advocate-general of Tamil Nadu, NR Chandran, too feels that prima facie the NEET was not a step in the right direction. "Courts have recognised certain rights of unaided educational institutions. Such common entrance tests cannot be forced on them," he said.

"It will not stand the legal scrutiny," Dr Naidu said, adding that the apex court had said more than once that as far as the unaided institutions are concerned, the role of the government or its agencies would end with ensuring that the inter se merit of candidates was not undermined by the managements. Single eligibility-cum-entrance test would render the two-year higher secondary courses redundant, and lead to mushrooming of coaching centres, he said.

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