The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in the writ petition preferred by MD Radiation Oncologists and MD Anaesthesiologists NEET SS 2022 aspirant challenging the changed examination pattern which would now consist of 150 questions from the general/basic component of the primary feeder broad specialty subject and from all sub- specialty/systems/component of that primary feeder broad specialty subject.
The aspirants are also aggrieved by the draft Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2021 published by National Medical Commission which proposes to delete MD radiation oncology/radiotherapy as an eligible feeder specialty qualification for the super specialty course of DM Medical Oncology. The petition was listed before the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and PS Narasimha.
In the hearing yesterday, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan for the doctors commenced his submissions by referring to one of the orders passed in a writ petition which had challenged the change in exam pattern.
He thus drew Court's attention to his submissions made wherein he had submitted that:
- Under the prevailing pattern since 2018, 60% marks were to be allotted for questions in the Super Specialty while 40% marks were distributed to questions from the feeder courses;
- As a result of the new pattern, all questions for the Critical Care super specialty will be drawn from General Medicine, thereby leaving students from other specialties at a serious disadvantage
He further referred to the chart of how the changed pattern alters and affects the prospects of MD Radiation Oncologists to do their Super Specialization in DM Medical Oncology and of MD Anaesthiologists to do their Super Specialization in DM Critical care.
"You are concerned about the area of SS of oncology. Earlier it was provided that the ones who had MD could apply and now the neck is wider," remarked Justice PS Narasimha pursuant to the submissions made by Senior Advocate.
"The neck is wider but I'm excluded," responded Senior Counsel.
He further submitted that the petitioners had even made representations to the authorities draft Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2021 published by National Medical Commission which proposes to delete MD radiation oncology/radiotherapy as an eligible feeder specialty qualification for the super specialty course of DM Medical Oncology but did not get any reply.
"Now we wrote to them 10 letters, but they haven't responded to the representation. They must confirm that is open to me," Divan further submitted.
"We'll give you the liberty to come once they finalize. Mr Divan, we'll issue notice in the matter," the bench remarked at this juncture while adjourning the petition for Friday.
It has been argued in the petition that the proposed deletion of MD (Radiation Oncology) as one of the eligible feeder specialty qualifications for the superspeciality course of DM Medical Oncology has sent shockwaves in the entire fraternity of Radiation Oncologists in India.
Contending that the erstwhile pattern had a paper with 40% mixed questions from all the broad specialties and 60% questions from Critical Care (i.e., the super-specialty subject) which had ensured a level playing field, the petitioners have contended that the new pattern was forcing all the candidates from the broad specialties to write a single paper which will have 100% questions from General Medicine.
"There will be no questions from broad specialties of the other four post-graduate branches. The pattern is not just a waste of time and effort for all those who have prepared for Critical Care but also grossly biased against few broad specialties, particularly in favour of MD Medicine in so far as the choice of options is far greater vis-a-vis the choices available to either MD Radiation Oncology or MD Anaesthesia.
The new examination scheme is making some candidates write a paper which has no questions from their postgraduate broad speciality and they will have to compete with candidates who have 100% questions from their postgraduate syllabus/ broad speciality," the petition states.
Terming the change in pattern as "arbitrary, illogical, unreasonable and highly partial," petitioners have contended that this is complete waste of time, resources and effort put by the candidates who have been preparing for a super speciality subject for years.
"Having a uniform qualifying percentile when the question paper is identical for every candidate is perfectly logical, but to do so when the question papers admittedly differ across groups, yet conferring an undue comparative advantage upon some of them as delineated above, is patently unfair. To have the same qualifying percentile for a candidate of MD (General Medicine) and MD (Anaesthesia) towards admission in DM Critical Care or for a candidate of MD (General Medicine) and MD (Radiation Oncology) towards admission in DM (Oncology) would be the definition of perversity and violation of the guarantee against non-arbitrariness protected under Article 14 of the Constitution of India," the plea further states.
It may be noted that after being faced with harsh criticism from the Supreme Court over the eleventh-hour changes brought to the NEET-SS 2021 pattern, the Central Government on October 5, 2021 had told the Court that the revised pattern will be implemented only from next year.
Against this backdrop, the petitioners have sought issuance of directions to restrain the NBE from excluding / deleting MD Radiation Oncology / MD Radiotherapy from the eligible feeder specialties for the super specialty course of DM Medical Oncology for NEET SS 2022 and have further sought for restoring the scheme/pattern for the exam.
The petition has been filed through AOR Javedur Rahman.
Case Title: Dr Richa Verma v. National Board of Examination