The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain petitions for postponing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)-PG 2023, which is scheduled for March 5.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the National Board of Examinations (NBE), submitted before a bench headed by Justice S.R. Bhat that there is no date available in the near future with the Centre's technology partner to conduct the exam and admit cards have been issued as per schedule and the counselling may commence from July 15.
After hearing Bhati's submissions, the bench, also comprising Justice Dipankar Datta, declined to entertain the two petitions seeking postponement of the exam.
In a status report, the Centre said: "The schedule for holding NEET-PG 2023 on March 5, 2023 was notified on NBEMS website vide notice dated September 16, 2022, almost 6 months before the conduct of examination. The examination is scheduled to be held in 277 cities at 902 test centres across the country."
It added: "2,09,029 candidates have applied for the examination. Most of the candidates would have already arranged for their travel to test cities for March 5. Any postponement at this stage would bring unwanted inconvenience to all such candidates in the form of cancellation of their travel arrangement. The admit cards are scheduled to be issued today i.e. on February 27, 2023."
The top court was informed that 10 petitioners had completed their internship last year or even before and cannot take a plea of lesser time to prepare.
"Further, except for three petitioners, the rest had applied for NEET-PG in the original window opened in January itself. It is incorrect on their part to say that they came to know about their eligibility only on February 7, 2023. Only three petitioners have applied in the reopened window in February and are completing internships in July," it added.
The status report further added, "The counselling for the session 2023-24 will commence from July 15, 2023. Therefore, approximately 98 per cent of the participating doctors will finish their internship by the time the counselling for NEET-PG (2023-24) will begin from July 15. The remaining candidates who complete their internship after July 15 and are eligible to participate in the counselling process will be allowed provisionally to participate in the counselling and will be dealt on a case-to-case basis. They will be required to complete the PG tenure of 3 years and alternate/additional arrangement would be made to maintain the quality of medical education."
On February 24, the top court had orally observed that postponing the exam would be a mental torture for those who are waiting for the exam and added that it will not pass any order either way.
The bench had noted that "when we postpone a judicial exam, there is agony for the candidates who are preparing for it. The whole dynamics change".
The petitioners had sought postponement of the examination, saying the counselling has to be conducted after August 11 since the cut-off date for internship has been extended to that date.