Mumbai: Several medical students are upset with the Supreme Court's (SC) refusal to postpone the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)-PG 2023, which is scheduled for March 5.
On Monday, the SC bench of Justices S R Bhat and Dipankar Datta refused to entertain pleas seeking postponement of NEET-PG 2023, saying there is nothing in this world to prevent somebody who has not made it to try again.
Students frown SC decision
However, the students said that the decision leaves them with little time to prepare for the test, as they are busy with their internships. The candidates said that they stand to lose a year, as the next edition of NEET-PG won't be held until next year.
"Most of the NEET-PG candidates are busy with their internships. It's very difficult to prepare for the entrance test while performing our hectic duties at the hospital. If we are unable to perform well in the test this time round, we will have to wait for another year while carrying the mental burden of the exam. Another cause of worry for us is that the government might change exam patterns in the next cycle," said Lakhan Prakash Gupta from Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh.
Medical students are required to pursue a year-long internship at the hospital attached to their college at the end of their graduation. Usually, the entrance exam for MS, MD and other post-graduation courses are held after the internship period. However, currently, many students are yet to complete their internships as final exams got delayed at several colleges largely due to disturbance in the academic calendar caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Considering the delay, the National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences (NBEMS) extended the cut-off date for completion of the internship from March 31 to August 11, allowing more candidates to be eligible for the upcoming NEET-PG. However, many of these newly eligible candidates feel that they are at a disadvantage compared to their peers, as they get less time to prepare for the exam.
"When the exam date was announced in January, we weren't preparing for it as the old cut-off date meant that we weren't eligible. The eligibility criterion was changed only weeks before the exam, leaving us no time to prepare. There's a lack of clarity and preparedness on part of the National Medical Council (NMC). They should have come out with a common academic schedule for all the universities. If the cut-off date was to be changed, it should have been done earlier," said Ritika Sinha, a student at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, Muzaffarpur.
NBE, Ministry remain adamant on NEET PG date
On February 24, the NBE had told the apex court that around 2.09 lakh candidates have registered for the NEET-PG exam 2023 and no alternative date for conducting it may be available in the near future if it is postponed.
The NEET-PG examination will be conducted as per schedule on March 5 for those aspiring to get admission to postgraduate medical courses, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had told Lok Sabha on February 10.
To ensure that no one is left out, the ministry has extended the cut-off date for all those MBBS students who are yet to complete their internship, he had said while replying to a question by a Congress member.
The ministry had extended the cut-off date from June 30 to August 11 for the NEET-PG aspirants to complete their mandatory one-year internship.
While hearing the pleas last week, the apex court had observed, "For those who are waiting for this (examination), it is really a mental torture."
"When we postpone a judicial exam, there is agony for the candidates who are preparing for it. The whole dynamics changed," the bench had said.
Sankaranarayanan had then argued that students are undergoing internship for 12 hours a day and there was no adequate time for them to prepare for the examination.
The petitioners had also argued that the issue has arisen because different states have different schedules for internship.
The petitioners, through their counsel Tanvi Dubey, have raised the issue of eligibility criteria being modified twice by the NBE and claimed that it reflects the oversight and mismanagement on its part of not consulting the state medical bodies in advance, thereby giving no time to the candidates to prepare.
(with inputs from PTI)
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