NEET 2016: Highlights from the nation’s first all India entrance exam for medicine

April 2016: SC picks NEET over AIPMT

On April 11, 2016, the constitution bench of the Supreme Court recalled the 2013 judgment that had stricken down the possibility of conducting a common entrance test for all medical colleges across the state. On April 28, it was decided that the medical aspirants this year will have to give National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in place of AIPMT (All India Pre-Medical Test) on May 1, 2016. The apex court ordered that the examination will take place in two phases on May 1 and July 24 at various test centres across the country.

May- July 2016: Resistance against the court order 

Right after the court order, there were resistances registered against it. Medical aspirants, concerned parents, political parties and state government medical authorities voiced their concern over the order and wanted NEET to be operational from next year (2017). However, the Supreme Court refused to issue any urgent order to modify its order passed on April 28. The date of AIPMT was already declared to be on May 1, and the court ordered that aspirants who haven’t taken part in the examination will be able to take the phase II of the examination on July 24. 

According to reports, there were almost 11 lakh candidates who took the two phases of NEET this year. 

On May 9, the Supreme Court rejected the pleas made by state governments and minority institutes stating that they would not be able to hold their separate entrance examination for MBBS and BDS courses. This is when students and parents raised their concern over the disparity in syllabus. Most of the state-controlled medical entrance examinations followed the NCERT syllabus, while the NEET was scheduled to take place keeping in mind the CBSE syllabus. Along with the problem of syllabus, there was concern about the language among the students of the state boards as well. There was no option for taking NEET in vernacular or regional languages resulting in resistance from different parts of the country. 

August 2016: Government Resolution and the aftermath 

Taking into account the strong opposition from various states, the central government came up with an ordinance, making it possible for the states to skip NEET for the year 2016. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha passed the ordinance and amendments were made in Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016, citing that NEET will be the only entrance examination from the next academic year and not this year.

If this was not all, there were a series of petitions and court orders that followed suite. Students and parents filed complaints about an alleged paper leak of NEET Phase II examination in Uttarakhand. The medical aspirants complained about the Phase II examination being tougher than that of the Phase I. Further, petitions were filed demanding normalisation or rationalisation of marks in the two phases of the examination. 

September 2016: Confusion about the Counselling procedure 

Counselling for the 15% AIQ seats began from August 25, amidst the demand of normalisation from the medical aspirants. By the time the counselling was going on for the government medical colleges, some private colleges from different states initiated counselling procedures of their own. The Supreme Court on September 22 ordered to cancel all such admissions made by private colleges and asked to fill seats based on centralised counselling conducted by state medical authorities. 

Medical aspirants in states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were dealing with their own set of court orders passed by the High Courts of the respective states. The Bombay High Court order on domicile candidates getting admission in 85% seats in the state of Maharashtra paved way for centralised counselling in the private medical college seats in the states. 

The rest of the seats in the 15% AIQ were scheduled to get transferred to the state after two rounds of counselling, but it was stalled by the Supreme Court on September 20 as a result of petitions filed in the court. The seats were eventually returned to the respective states on September 23. 

On September 28, the SC cancelled the admissions made by private institutes in the country under the NRI category, who were admitted on the basis of their scores in the board examinations. The court stated that they can’t be allowed to take admission this year as they haven’t taken NEET. This resulted in NRI students, who had already taken admission in various private institutes, losing a year.

October 2016: Vacant seats despite extension in date

Amidst all the confusion, the Supreme Court on September 28 extended the last date of completion of the counselling procedure for the year 2016 from September 31 to October 7.  The respective state medical authorities were told to fill up all the vacant seats by the date. While the state medical authorities filled up the rest of the seats till October 6, individual college mop-up round of seats took place on October 7. 

Even after the admissions were made on the institute level, there were quite a lot of seats that remained vacant. According to the petition filed by the Delhi-based NGO Sankalp Charitable Trust (SCT) in the Supreme Court to fill up the vacant seats, the number of vacant medical and dental seats were mentioned to be 5,000. The Supreme Court on October 28 denied any further extension in the dates for admission for the year. Even though there was no data released by the Medical Council of India (MCI) about the exact number of seats remaining vacant, the numbers were expected to be close to the assumption made by SCT. 

Quite a lot of students lost their seat due to the constant flip-flopping of court orders and admission authorities related to medical admission this year. The admissions made were not fully on the basis of merit and aspirants with lower marks ended up getting seats in NEET 2016 compared to those students with relatively higher marks. 

Click here to know what happened to one such medical aspirant Anjali Saaraf, who got caught in this web of confusion and government orders and ended up losing her medical seat this year.