NEET: The HRD Ministry was once again defending CBSE in court over the latter’s decision to set different sets of question papers in different languages for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET. The government has been seen as discouraging the village students from underprivileged castes.
The suicide of a 17-year-old student Anitha after she failed to get admission because of NEET led to widespread protests from the student community in Tamil Nadu. The child was a class 12-topper and had scored 1176 marks out of 1200 in the State exam. Anitha, from a village in Ariyalur district, was a daughter of a Dalit dailywage earner and did not qualify for the all- India NEET test.
Former chief minister J Jayalalithaa had ruled that in 2016, NEET would not apply to State admissions to medical colleges. This was changed in 2017.
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court by students alleging that the question paper in eight vernacular languages was more difficult than that in English and Hindi. About 1.48 lakh candidates wrote the exam in the regional languages and the CBSE said the differences in questions between sets was done to avoid leakage of question papers.
Anitha was a petitioner in the SC against the implementation of NEET for admissions to medical courses in Tamil Nadu. She had moved to be impleaded along with the Tamil Nadu government in the SC plea. Tamil Nadu has argued that the exam favours CBSE students over those under State boards. The TN government had twice readied an ordinance for exemption, which was cleared by the Law and HRD ministries. However, the Union Health Ministry referred it back to Attorney General K K Venugopal, contending that if the State’s demand for exemption was accepted, other States will raise similar demands. Subsequently, the AG, who was okay with exemption, revised his opinion. The AG said the Special Ordinance for exemption of TN from NEET was not ‘legally valid’. So, the apex court in August refused to pass an interim direction to the Medical Council of India and the CBSE to publish separate merit lists for CBSE students and their counterparts who studied under State syllabi in the NEET this year held on July 24 for undergraduate medical and dental courses in private colleges all over the country.
A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and S K Singh also sought the Centre’s response on petitions filed by medical and dental aspirants drawn largely from Tamil Nadu against the ‘discrimination’ shown in the Centre’s new NEET ordinance which exempts government colleges and government-assigned seats in private medical colleges from NEET. The court issued notice also to the MCI and the CBSE in this regard.The petitioners sought the court to direct the MCI and the CBSE to provide a proportionate quota to students from Tamil Nadu.
Petitions also challenged the MCI’s move to appoint the CBSE to conduct the NEET by mainly following CBSE syllabus for preparing question papers without giving equal importance to the syllabi prescribed by different State Boards.