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    NEET-MDS Exam Proceeds as Scheduled Despite Plea Rejection

    A NEET-MDS by the CJI noted that nearly 28,000 candidates will be taking the examination and the petitioners had moved the application at the last minute in their petition

    The Supreme Court on Friday refused to postpone the post-graduate dental entrance examination NEET-MDS scheduled for Monday (March 18), dismissing an application by dentists seeking parity with the conduct of the post-graduate medical examination NEET-PG scheduled for July 7.

    A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud noted that nearly 28,000 candidates will be taking the examination and the petitioners had moved the application at the last minute in their petition, which originally sought extension of the 31 March 2024 deadline for the completion of internship in order to be eligible to sit for NEET-MDS.

    The court noted that this concern was taken care of as the Centre extended the internship deadline to June 30. Following this decision, the portal to register for the examination was opened for three days from March 9-11, after which 568 candidates registered and became eligible to appear for the examination.

    Noting this development, the bench, also comprising justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said, “We think it will be inappropriate for this court to intervene at this stage considering the parameters laid down for judicial review. We, hence, decline to intervene in the present matter.”

    The top court had on February 21 passed an order on a separate set of petitions filed by 11 dentists who raised similar grievance on the extension of internship deadline. The court allowed them to move a representation to the Centre and said, “Since the issue of fixing cut-off date essentially pertains to the policy domain, it would be more appropriate to submit a representation… We direct that the representation be dealt with expeditiously and preferably within a period of one week from the date of this order.”

    Appearing for the National Dental Commission (NDC), advocate Gaurav Sharma pointed out that following the order, the commission had gathered data from all dental colleges on the completion of internship dates and forwarded it to the Centre. He stated that varied dates of internship deadlines across colleges occurred due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and since admissions were delayed that year, it impacted the internship dates as well.

    “An effort is being made to put the academic calendar back on the rails and for this, a tough decision has to be taken in some year,” Sharma said. He further pointed out that NEET-PG cannot be compared with NEET-MDS, which follows different schedules. He stated that a conscious decision has been taken by the authorities which, if disturbed, will affect counselling dates and disrupt the examination schedule, by which the March 31 academic calendar will again skip next year.

    The bench agreed with this view and said, “An effort is being made by NDC to bring back on rails the commencement of dental courses. This cannot be regarded as arbitrary to seek intervention by this court.”

    Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for the petitioners informed the court that the issue before the court concerns nearly 6,000 students who will lose a year till they become eligible for the MDS examination next year.

    He said that the students should not suffer for the fault of NDC as it failed to carry out an online survey seeking responses from colleges before fixing dates. This was done by the National Medical Commission (NMC), due to which the examination has been fixed for July 7 and the internship cut-off eligibility extended till August 15.

    “Assuming you are correct, 28,000 students have prepared for this examination. This often happens. In India with 1.4 billion, there will always be a problem with cut-off dates. Now they will appear next year,” the court said.

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