The Medical Council of India has submitted that the plea for overseas examination centres for NEET 2020 should be dismissed as the students have the option to come to India under the "Vande Bharat Mission". It has also submitted that postponement of the examination any further shall be a "drastic deviation" from the academic schedule which may affect the subsequent academic years of the students.
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. The matter is scheduled for hearing on Monday, i.e. August 24.
In its counter affidavit filed through Advocate Gaurav Sharma, the MCI has stated,
"the present petition does not deserve indulgence from this Hon'ble Court in view of the fact that the Govt. of India has permitted travel to and from other countries, through "Vande Bharat Mission'. It is submitted that the Govt. of India under the said mission permitted Indian Citizens, including Overseas Citizens of India, to come to India by special flights."
Notably, the Supreme Court had also told the Petitioner(s) during the last hearing, that Vande Bharat flights for return to India are being made available amid pandemic.
Inter alia, the Respondent has expressed practical difficulties in conducting the examination outside India as NEET is a 'uniform examination in paper-book format and such uniformity' has to be maintained for all candidates.
[Breaking]NEET 2020 To Be Conducted In Single Shift At The Same Time On The Same Day, No Overseas Centres Possible: National Testing Agency Tells SC
Reiterating the submission made by the National Testing Agency during the previous hearing, the MCI submitted,
"In order to fairly conduct an examination like NEET, which has to be a uniform examination, it is imperative that the examination is conduct at the same time everywhere, which shall not be possible, if examination is conducted in outside countries due to various reasons including different time zones, logistical issues, secrecy of test papers being a booklet based examination etc. It is submitted that if the NEET examination is not conducted at the same time everywhere, then the sanctity of the said examination will be lost, as there will be possibility of leakage of question. Further, in case of having separate question papers for different countries, there shall be an issue in respect of uniformity of the questions and their difficulty level."
Highlighting the logistical problems in setting up overseas test centers, the MCI has submitted,
"it shall not be possible to safely distribute / provide question papers at every center across the globe without any possibility of leakage examination paper. It is submitted that, in order to maintain the sanctity of examination and secrecy of question, the question paper of NEET is transported to centers, across the Country, from Head office of respondent no. 2, which requires detailed thought and planning. It is submitted that it is not possible for answering respondent or respondent no. 2, to do such kind of planning to transport question papers across the globe and conduct the examination."
It has further pointed out that the MCI shall not have any control over the overseas test centers as the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 confers administrative and regulatory powers to conduct NEET "only in India".
The examination is scheduled to be held on September 13, 2020, as the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development decided against postponement of the examination. Further, the NTA has assured that it has made elaborate arrangements for conducting the examination, including sanitization of test centers, availability of personal protective gears, trained staff, etc.
Click Here To Download Affidavit