Monday, March 27, 2023

SC refuses to postpone NEET-PG-22 exam

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to postpone the NEET-PG-22 examination on a plea of doctors, saying the delay would seriously affect patient care and would create “chaos and uncertainty”.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant said the postponement of the examination would create “chaos and uncertainty” and would affect the larger section of students, who have registered for the examination.
The top court said, “Over two lakh students have registered for the ensuing examination and their schedule will be seriously affected if a further postponement is granted under the direction of this court which will result in chaos and uncertainty”.
It said, “These are matters which essentially pertain to the policy domain unless the court is satisfied that the decision which has been taken by the authorities was without any application of mind in relevant circumstances or is manifestly arbitrary, there would be no reason for the court to interfere”.
The bench added that the postponement of any examination is replete with serious consequences as while one body of students may be interested in seeking a postponement, there would be a large body of other students who have studied and registered for the examination, who would be seriously affected. “Above all, the need of patient care and treatment must be paramount in the clash of rival interests between those doctors who have registered for ensuing examination and those who have not registered. Hence in our considered view, the relief which has been sought in these proceedings cannot be granted. The petition is accordingly dismissed”, the bench said.
The top court said an important consideration that has weighed with the court not to postpone the NEET-PG-22 examination is that any delay in conducting the examination would lead to a fewer number of resident doctors in hospitals.
It said that this year only two batches are currently available because of the delay in holding the examination resulting in a serious deficiency in the required strength of doctors in hospitals.
“In this backdrop, while the request which has been made by the petitioner for further postponement of the examination weighed from their perspective seems innocuous, cannot be entertained for the reason that it will seriously impact upon the availability of patient care and qualified Post Graduate doctors and likely to have a cascading effect in terms of the patient care as well as the careers of doctors who have already registered in large number for the ensuing examination”, it said.
It said that as the country gets back on the rail after the dislocation which was caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary that the decision which has been taken by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to adhere to the time schedule must be accepted.
The bench said that while considering the rival submissions, it must be noted at the outset, that the academic session has already been delayed by a period of four months, in terms of the schedule which has been prescribed by this court by order dated January 18, 2016.
It said that the schedule was revised due to the exigencies caused by the impact of the pandemic during 2020-21.
It noted that the petitioners as well as similarly placed doctors who have participated in the counselling process of NEET-PG-2021 were not barred from registering for NEET-PG-22.
“The registration for the NEET-PG-22 have been closed on March 25, 2022, and as many two lakh, six thousand five hundred forty-one doctors have registered for the ensuing examination”, it noted.
The bench said concerning the submission of the petitioners that the postponement of the examination would not cause any prejudice to union ministry but what must be borne in mind by the court is that there is a large body of students on the other hand and needs of patient care which cannot be ignored.
Senior advocates Rakesh Khanna, Anand Grover, and P Wilson, appearing for the petitioner doctors, urged the court to postpone the examination due to the clash with counselling process going on for NEET-PG-21.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati while opposing the submission urged that a conscious decision was taken on May 10 against the postponement of the examination for its bearing on public interest and needs for medical education.
She said that any delay in conducting the NEET-PG-2022 examination would have an impact on patient care since this would lead to a fewer number of resident doctors in hospitals.
On May 10, the top court agreed to hear on May 13 a plea of doctors seeking postponement of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for Postgraduate (NEET-PG) 2022 which is scheduled to be held on May 21 on the ground that it will clash with the ongoing counselling for NEET-PG 2021.
The plea filed through advocates Ashutosh Dubey and Abhishek Chauhan said, “The petitioners are the doctors who are doing their requisite internship with different hospitals across the country.
The petitioners aspire to appear in NEET-PG examination 2022 scheduled to be held on May 21 for the purpose of choosing their career option as per their ranking, choice, and available options to them under different branches of medical science for Post-Graduation Courses”.
The plea sought direction to quash the February 4 notification issued by the National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences for holding the NEET PG-2022 examination on May 21 and or defer the scheduled date of the examination.


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