A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna asked the authorities why the changes can’t be enforced next year. Neet order

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The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the National Board of Examinations and the National Medical Commission over the last minute changes brought to the NEET-SS 2021 exams.

A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna asked the authorities why the changes can’t be enforced next year.

The bench asked why the changes in pattern was notified midway after the students had started preparations and suggested that they be enforced the next year.

“Why has the notice been issued? Students start preparing for super specialty courses months & months in advance. Why is the need to change the same last minutes before the exam? Why can you not proceed with the changes from the following year?”, Justice Chandrachud asked Senior Advocate Maninder Singh who was representing the National Board o Examinations.

“Mr Sharma, what is the NMC doing? We’re dealing with lives of doctors. You issue notice & then change the pattern?”, the judge asked Advocate Guarav Sharma, the counsel for the National Medical Commission.

The NBE’s counsel submitted that the changes were “well-considered” and were in contemplation for some time, and were enforced after the necessary approvals were obtained. He sought for time to file reply.

Dissatisfied with this response, Justice Chandrachud said., “Don’t treat this young doctors as footballs in the game of power. Hold the meeting and put your house on order. We cant put these doctors at the mercy of insensitive bureaucrats”.

The bench asked the NBE and the NMC to consult with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and “set the house in the order”.

“This is so important for their career. Now you cannot introduce changes last minute”, Justice Chandrachud reiterated.

The bench warned that it will issue “strictures” if the authorities don’t come up with a solution after the meeting.

“Please be open to strictures of supreme court if we are not agreeing with you//deal with young doctors with sensitivity. You cannot deal with their lives like this”, Justice Chandrachud said.

The matter will be considered next week.

The writ petition was filed by 41 qualified post-graduate doctors from across the country challenging the “abrupt” and “last-minute” changes made by the National Board of Examinations for the exam pattern of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Super Specialty (NEET-SS) 2021

Last week, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, had submitted that notification for the examination, scheduled to be held on November 13/14 this year, was issued on July 23, 2021. However, on August 31, 2021, another notification was issued changing the pattern of the exam.

As per the prevailing pattern which has been in existence from 2018 to 2020, 60% marks were allotted from question in the super specialty while 40% distributed for questions from feeder courses. However, as per the proposed pattern, the entirety of questions for the critical care super specialty will be drawn from general medicines. Mr.Divan argued that this leaves students from other disciplines at a great disadvantage. He submitted that the authority should not have brought these changes after the exam notification was issued, and after the students had begun their preparations. The senior counsel argued that it is a well settled principle that the rules of the game cannot be changed after it has started.

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