NEW DELHI: An ordinance exempting State boards from the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions to medical courses for a year remained in limbo with President Pranab Mukherjee seeking more clarification from the Ministry of Health.
Mukherjee is leaving for China on Tuesday. Health Minister J P Nadda met Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday and briefed him on the ordinance, which was cleared by the Cabinet after many State boards raised objections to the Supreme Court–mandated NEET.
Sources said replies to clarifications sought by the President would be sent in the next few days. In the meeting that lasted for more than half an hour, Nadda is learnt to have briefed Mukherjee on three issues — different exams of State boards, syllabi and the problem of students studying in regional languages.
The ordinance was sent for presidential approval on Saturday. On that day itself, Mukherjee sought clarifications on why the government needed to take the ordinance route to keep State boards out of the ambit of the NEET.
Nadda, who was scheduled to attend a health summit in Geneva, had to cancel the trip in order to meet the President on Monday. The President has also sought the opinion of in-house legal experts on the ordinance. The Cabinet on Friday gave the go-ahead for the ordinance to exempt certain State boards from NEET for a year.
The government had decided to promulgate the ordinance following objections from States such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab. These States had submitted their representations at the health ministers’ meeting on May 16 where they expressed their inability to implement the NEET this year, citing various reasons, including different syllabi and the language barrier.
The ordinance will partially overturn a Supreme Court verdict which said all government colleges, deemed universities and private colleges would be covered under the NEET. Exemption would be only on State government seats, which are earmarked in private medical colleges.
‘No plan to scrap it’
Nearly 6.5 lakh students have taken the entrance test in the first phase held on May 1. J P Nadda has already clarified the government has no plans to scrap the exam. “Let me make it clear, NEET has been implemented and is in existence, first phase is over and second phase will take place on July 24,” the Health Minister had tweeted.