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SC: No age bar for NEET this year

By Our Correspondent
: On March 31 the
Supreme Court allowed NEET aspirants above 25 to appear for this year’s exam.

A Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said the candidates could fill forms till April 5 for the test scheduled for May 7. The date for acceptance of forms had expired on March 1.

The order would be beneficial to lakhs of medical aspirants who were rendered ineligible because of the MCI regulation. “Such an age limit could not have been determined by way of a notice on the basis of the instructions issued by the Medical Council of India,” the Bench said, allowing all desirous candidates to fill forms on the CBSE online portal on or before April 5.

The bench held a prima facie view that the age limit cannot be prescribed by the MCI without a formal exercise of issuing pertinent regulations.

“If any High Court has passed any order contrary to the present order, the CBSE shall be bound by the order passed by this court as far as the cut-off date is concerned. No High Court in the country shall interfere with regard to any litigation pertaining to choosing/allocation of centres,” the Bench ordered.

The Bench—which is seized of petitions challenging the age criterion prescribed by the MCI for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate medical and dental courses—said it would take up the matter in July.

It passed the interim order after senior advocates Amrendra Sharan and Indy Malhotra—representing individual applicants—contended that the age limit prohibited a large number of aspirants who wanted to pursue the course after graduation.

The CBSE counsel opposed it on the grounds that the formalities for the examination had already been finalised and it was difficult to redo the exercise. Unimpressed, the court chose to relax the age limit. It said the online notification clarifying the age limit and the extension of date be uploaded on the official website by Friday evening.

The MCI had last month defended its regulation stipulating an upper age limit of 25 with a maximum three attempts for admission to MBBS/BDS course, saying the study of medicine required “sharp young minds”.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the MCI had said: “It is unfair to make a young student taking the NEET for the first time to compete with a much older student who had more time to prepare and had already availed several attempts.”

The regulation that came into force from this year also restricted the maximum attempts at three.

Centre sets age limit on NEET attempts
MUMBAI: The Central government has introduced an age limit for medical aspirants taking the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).

The age limit for those aiming at 15% all-India quota seats has been set to 25 years whereas those from reserved categories will be able to take the test till they turn 30 years old. But the number of attempts for each candidate will be three.

“The move will help bring better candidates in medical education because we know of cases where a student has appeared for the entrance test almost ten times, and then passed,” said Dr Pravin Shingare, director, Directorate of Medical Education and Research.

This decision was taken at a meeting held in Delhi and a notification will reach all state governments soon. While many parents are lauding this move, experts said this might affect many from the reserved categories.

Meanwhile, parents are more worried about the delay in the registration process for NEET exams. “The process starts in mid-December but we have not heard from the authorities yet. We hope that they are not planning to start the process when our children will be busy with their class XII exams, which starts in February,” said Ankit Maniar, a parent. Final dates of NEET 2017 should be released by next week.



AICTE nod to all-India engg entrance test from '18

By Rajiv Shukla
Following a directive from the Central government, the AICTE has decided to hold an all-India test for admission to the undergraduate engineering and architecture courses from 2018.

This would be the third incarnation of the all-India engineering admission test the first being AIEEE and the second being the JEE (Mains).

The directive from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to the AICTE came after it overruled objections from Bengal and Tamil Nadu and a couple of days later, on February 10, it told the AICTE to go ahead with an all-India engineering admission exam to admit students to eight lakh B.Tech seats across 3,400 colleges in the country.  

The states have, however, been given the leeway to admit students to their engineering colleges solely on the basis of the merit in the all-India exam or to give some weightage to their board marks too.

The minimum weightage that must be given to candidates' scores in the national exam, called National Entrance Examination for Engineering and Architecture (NEEEA), has not been fixed yet but will be on the higher side, said sources in the AICTE.

According to sources, the existing domicile rules will continue, and each state will be provided a merit list of candidates from that state alone. A national merit list too will be prepared for admission to central government-run tech schools such as the National Institutes of Technology.

The AICTE decision about NEEEA was taken at a meeting of the Council in early March where it was decided to issue regulations specifying norms for the all India test.

"Since the proposal is in accordance with the policy of the government to improve standards and quality of engineering education, AICTE is advised to issue suitable regulation for its implementation from 2018-19," order issued by R. Subrahmanyam, Additional Secretary in the MHRD, said.

The council has been asked to ensure the test is conducted multiple times a year and addresses linguistic diversity.


The all-India engineering admission test was first introduced in 2002 when Dr Murli Manohar Joshi was the union HRD minister. Named All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), the Central Board of Secondary Education was made the nodal body to conduct the test. All private and government engineering colleges in the country were given option to pick students from the merit list of the exam, including the National Institutes of Technology (NITs). The AIEEE, the first avatar of the pan-India exam lasted 10 years and was superseded by what was called Joint Entrance Examination (Main) in 2013.

Under the JEE (Main), being conducted by the CBSE, the states are allowed to hold their own admission tests or to admit students on the basis of their board scores. The JEE (Main) has survived for five years and would now be superseded by National Entrance Examination for Engineering and Architecture (NEEEA) which would most likely be conducted by the proposed National Testing Agency.

Bengal, TN exceptions

About 90 engineering colleges in Bengal admit some 21,000 undergraduate students on the basis of their performance in the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination. Bengal government argued that its state-level exam was conducted very well and did not need to be replaced by a national-level test.

Similarly the undergraduate engineering students in Tamil Nadu are admitted on the basis of their Class XII board marks. The state's 533 undergraduate engineering colleges have 1.6 lakh seats. The Tamil Nadu government had contended that the state board's Class XII science syllabus was not on a par with that taught by the Central Board of Secondary Education.

Since questions in the NEEEA are expected, like those in the JEE Main, to be of the central board's standards, Tamil Nadu argued that a national entrance test might put students from the state at a disadvantage. It was advised to immediately revise its school syllabus.

Tamil Nadu also expressed apprehensions that its reservation volumes - different from the national quota break-up - could be affected if admissions were regulated by a national entrance exam.

"Two states have concerns but the council's regulations are binding on all states and will prevail," a MHRD official said. He said the regulation would be notified soon.

At present, a National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test is conducted as a single-window admission test for undergraduate medical and dental courses. It is conducted in 10 languages, including Bengali, Odia and Assamese. The NEEEA may be held in all these languages.

The IITs treat the JEE Main as a filter and conduct a JEE Advanced to select their students. They may continue with their separate test.

SC damns govt for NEET order but refuses to stay

By Sanjiv Dube
On July 14 the three judge Supreme Court bench hearing the
National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) case criticised the NEET ordinance calling it "disturbing, unwarranted and not proper" but refused to stay it in the interest of the students.

The bench, comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, Justice A R Dave and Justice Adarsh K Goel said that staying the ordinance at this stage would trigger chaos as lakhs of students across 17 States have already written exams in their respective States.

The ordinance, called the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance 2016 issued by the government on May 24, 2016 allowed States to conduct their own common entrance exams for admission to MBBS and BDS seats in government colleges despite the Supreme Court order on May 9, 2016 that only NEET would prevail.

"Prime facie, we found that the validity of the ordinance is in doubt. Since 50% of the states (17) had already held their examinations, we do not grant any relief," the bench said.

The court said it favoured a single common entrance test for all medical colleges in order to bring uniformity in the examination in the interest of students and for maintaining a minimum standard.

In a strong comment on medical colleges admitting students after taking money, Justice Dave said, "What to talk about the middle class. It is even impossible for upper middle class candidates to get admission in medical colleges. Think of it..if you and I have to be treated by a doctor who paid Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore for admission."

NGO Sankalp Charitable Trust and Anand Rai, who claimed to be Madhya Pradesh's Vyapam scam whistleblower, sought a stay on the May 24 ordinance that allowed states to conduct their own exams for academic session 2016-17.

Opposing the prayer Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the NEET was mooted in the Medical Council of India regulations as part of the subordinate legislation and the government had power to regulate it. Countering petitioner's plea, he said it would affect lakhs of students, if the ordinance was stayed.

May 9 order was passed despite objections from several States and private medical colleges that they have their own exams and many are underway or about to begin. The court simply had asked then to fall in line.

Expressing its displeasure the bench said : “Your move to bring this ordinance despite our order was not proper. It was unwarranted. It should not have happened. When the court said ‘no’ to State exams, you disregard us and issued an ordinance for State exams... Did you not think about the confusion it would cause to the children? After all these are our children,” Justice Dave told Attorney-General.

Mr. Rohatgi said that the ordinance was not meant as an affront to the Supreme Court’s authority. He said the ordinance merely opened an “option” for States to either opt for NEET or conduct their exams exclusively for State seats for the current academic year.

NEET is back, SC bench scraps earlier judgement

By Rajiv Shukla
In a landmark move the Supreme Court of India on April 11 recalled its one of the most controversial judgements -- NEET case judgement -- and ordered that "the case be heard afresh".

The case, called National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) case was delivered on July 18, 2013 by the Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir a dayAltamash Kabir before he was to retire, giving ample relief to private medical colleges. Some  private medical colleges had challenged the Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India regulations on admissions to medical and dental college -- and the relief allowed them to have their way in the matter of admissions.

With the recall of the judgement status quo ante has been restored and the MCI has been told to organise a combined all-India admission test for private and government medical colleges.

However, the MCI vice-chairman Dr C V Bhirmanandham has expressed his inability to hold the all-India test this year because of paucity of time and this may allow the private players to have their way this year as well.

Hearing the review petitions on April 11 the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice A R Dave and comprising Justices A K Sikri, R K Agrawal, A K Goel and R Banumathi recalled the judgment dated July 18, 2013 which had quashed NEET. It said the “majority verdict“ delivered by then Chief Justice Altamas Kabir did not consider an earlier SC judgment that was binding on the bench, nor had he consulted other members of his bench.

Incidentally Justice A R Dave, who headed the 5-judge Constitution bench that recalled the earlier order had given a dissenting verdict in the NEET case. In his April 11 order he specified that he was not consulted by the then CJI Altamas Kabir.

The April 11 order comes just a month before separate entrance tests are to be held for government and private medical colleges, putting lakhs of students in confusion. There are over 400 medical colleges in the country and lakhs of students sit for admission tests for over 52,000 MBBS seats. Since 2013, state governments and private colleges have conducted separate examinations for these.

Monday's order leaves Medical Council of India with the onerous task of conducting the NEET at a short notice as students have already filled in forms for several entrance tests.

Immediately after judgment reviving the NEET was pronounced in open court, stunned lawyers appearing for private colleges, pleaded that the SC clarify the consequences. The bench replied that “natural consequence“ was that NEET comes into force. It said the court would give a fresh hearing on constitutional validity of NEET but in the meantime, the exam will be restored. The lawyers then pleaded that the MCI's notification to bring NEET back be stayed till its validity was decided afresh and said that in 2013, too, an interim stay was given. The bench, however, rejected the plea saying the interim order was only for one academic session and it could not continue.

“After giving our thoughtful and due consideration, we are of the view that the judgment delivered in Christian Medical College needs reconsideration,“ the bench said.

Recalling earlier order the Constitution bench allowed review petitions by the Union government and the Medical Council of India (MCI) against the July 18, 2013, verdict and restored the NEET 2011 notification.

“The NEET regulations are restored and MCI can conduct the examinations pending the fresh judgement,” the order said.

According to the 2011 notification, the CBSE was to conduct the tests for admission to MBBS and BDS courses and the National Board of Examination for the PG programmes.

The 2013 verdict

The 2013 verdict had created a buzz in the apex court corridors as an advocate had posted the outcome on a social networking site in advance. However, Justice Kabir had reportedly said he was not aware of the leak of the judgment.

While Justice Vikramjit Sen (since retired) had shared the views and findings of Justice Kabir against the NEET, Justice Dave had in his dissenting verdict said that the three judges "had no discussion on the subject due to paucity of time". Justice Dave had stressed that this was not the normal practice.

Justice Dave had written in 2013 that “one of the main considerations of having one common entrance test conducted by the Medical Council of India is to check the malaise of money-making business in the admission process by selling their seats for crores, which has been going on for the last so many years in private colleges.”

The Christian Medical College, Vellore; the States of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; several associations of private medical colleges; DD Medical College and DD Hospital, Tamil Nadu; and various private medical colleges had filed petitions in High Courts and obtained an interim stay on the applicability of the NEET on them. On the MCI’s petitions, these cases were transferred to the Supreme Court.

Misra panel suggests key changes in JEE main

By Our Correspondent
An expert committee of the Union HRD Ministry has suggested an online aptitude test, held more than once a year, by a National Testing Service (NTS), instead of the current JEE Main conducted by the CBSE, a ministry announcement said on November 7.Prof Ashok Misra

Those who qualify the NTS aptitude test will be eligible to write the JEE. Admission to both IITs and NITs will be based on the results in the JEE, the ministry said.

The changes, according to the ministry, will come into effect only from 2017 or 2018 and till then the existing system will continue, allowing 40 per cent weightage for 12th marks. However, instead of 1.5 lakh students, now two lakh will qualify from JEE Main for JEE Advanced.

"The government has decided to place the recommendations of the report in the public domain for widespread consultation with the stakeholders. Since this process would take some time, it was decided that the JEE 2016 shall be conducted in the same manner as in 2015," it said.

The ministry had appointed a committee led by IIT Roorkee chairman Prof. Ashok Misra to suggest changes to the IITs and NIT admission system. It submitted its report to the MHRD on November 5 suggesting setting up of NTS by early 2016 to conduct an Aptitude Test on the lines of SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) conducted in the US.

"The aptitude test may be offered two or more times in a year and would be an online test. The testing shall test the scientific thinking and cannot be gamed through coaching. Based on this performance, about 4 lakh candidates shall be shortlisted for taking the JEE," the panel suggested. "The JEE itself will be on the lines of the current JEE (Advanced) ," it added.

The recommendations:

1. Major changes in the structure of JEE be effected from 2017 onwards:

• A National Testing Service shall be set up by early 2016, mandated to conduct an Aptitude Test, which should test the scientific aptitude and innovative thinking ability. The Aptitude test may be offered 2 or more times in a year and would be an online test. The testing shall test the scientific thinking and cannot be gamed through coaching.

• Based on this performance, about 4 lakh candidates shall be short-listed for taking the JEE.

• The JEE itself will be on the lines of the current JEE (Advanced) and designed to test the knowledge in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics; and will be conducted by the IITs.

• From this, ranks will be issued to 40,000+ students who can seek admission in IITs and NITs based on a common counselling.

• The IITs be requested to set up a system for developing mock JEE examinations which will help students prepare for the JEE significantly and wean them away from the coaching industry. The possibility of using the MOOCS platform can also be explored.

• MHRD may take measures for the improvement of school education and the method of examination of the Boards, so that students with the Science aptitude are well prepared in the concepts by the time they reach 12th grade, without dependence on coaching institutions.

2. Till such time, that is for 2016 and 2017, the practice of two tier JEE examination shall be continued.

• The top 200,000 students from JEE (Main) shall be allowed to appear in JEE (Advanced).

• More than 40,000 ranks will be issued in JEE (Advanced) for developing a better system for selection of candidates.

• Joint counselling for IITs and NITs shall be continued as was done last year.

3. Board marks shall not to be counted for giving rankings this year for NITs, CFTIs etc.

The Government has decided to place the recommendations of the Report in the public domain for widespread consultation with the stakeholders.

Since this process would take some time, it was decided that the JEE 2016 shall be conducted in the same manner as 2015, with an enhanced intake from 1.5 lakh to two lakh into the JEE (Advanced) stage. The weightage given to Board marks in JEE (Main) would continue for the year 2016.


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