The National Testing Agency has filed a counter affidavit before the Supreme Court, intimating that it is not possible to have overseas examination centres for NEET 2020 because the examination is conducted in "paper book format".
The submission has come in response to the plea filed by parents of students who are applicants for the NEET UG 2020 entrance examination and reside in Doha, Qatar. They have challenged the Kerala High Court judgment which dismissed their plea for assigning test centers for NEET in Gulf countries.
A bench of Justices L.Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta & S. Ravindra Bhat had issued notice to the Respondents last month.
Standing by the decision of Kerala High Court, the NTA has submitted,
"the manner as to how examinations have to be conducted is a policy decision and, is, purely within the domain of the examining body viz., MCI and whether centres for conducting such examination should be provided in foreign countries, is in the province of MCI, to decide. MCI has taken its decision and, there is nothing on record which shows that the said decision of MCI is arbitrary or illegal."
It is informed that the NTA had duly consulted with the MCI regarding the students' demand for overseas test centers. However, the MCI has clarified that as the examination is conducted through Multiple Choice Questions in paper book format given to all candidates and, uniformity has to be maintained for all candidates, therefore, NEET (UG) examination should not be conducted in online mode for candidates abroad.
Highlighting the practical difficulty in fulfilling the students' demands, the affidavit states,
"examination cannot be conducted in abroad citites due to the fact, as already stated, NEET (UG) has to be conducted in single shift at the same time, on the same day to maintain uniformity and, further, the questions papers and other exam materials are to be transported from NTA headquarters to a large number of examination centres in various cities, which would require meticulous planning for safe and secured delivery of the same at the examination centres on time."
It is also stated that the Petitioners cannot plead parity with JEE (Main) exam, as the same is conducted via online mode, whereas NEET (UG) is being conducted in paperback format ever since.
"Unlike for JEE (Main), the question papers and other exam materials for NEET (UG) have to be transported from NTA Headquarter to the large number of examination centres in various cities, which would require meticulous planning for safe and secured delivery of the same at the examination centres on time. Whereas, such rigorous preparations are not required for JEE (Main), for which the Question Papers can be delivered to the Examination Centres half an hour before the examination in password protected online mode. Comparatively much more preparations are required to be made for the smooth conduct of the NEET (UG). Also as per the norms of MCI, NEET (UG) has to be conducted in single shift on a single day, in order to obtain the same level of difficulty in question paper for all candidates," the affidavit states.
The examination is scheduled to be held on September 13, 2020.
In related news, a writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the postponement of both NEET as well as JEE examinations, citing the risk of COVID-19 pandemic.
Click Here To Download Affidavit