NEET cannot be held online for candidates abroad, SC told

NTC says MCI had made it very clear that NEET was mandatorily held in paper-book format for all candidates

August 13, 2020 05:05 pm | Updated 10:17 pm IST - NEW DELHI

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The NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) for undergraduate medical courses cannot be held online for candidates abroad, the National Testing Agency (NTA) has told the Supreme Court.

The specialised body, which conducts examinations for higher educational courses, said the Medical Council of India (MCI) had made it very clear that NEET was mandatorily held in the paper-book format for all candidates. It is a policy decision of the NTA. The conduct of these exams was purely within the MCI’s domain.

An NTA affidavit said, “There is nothing to show the MCI has taken the decision illegally or arbitrarily”.

The NTA was responding to an order of the apex court to respond to a petition filed by the parents of over 4,000 NEET candidates in the Middle East for a direction to either allocate exam centres in these foreign countries or postpone the exams.

“The examination cannot be conducted abroad as the NEET (UG) has to be held in a single shift at the same time on the same day to maintain uniformity... Question paper and other exam materials have to be transported from the NTA Headquarters to a large number of exam centres in various cities securely”, the affidavit said.

The NEET cannot be compared with Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) conducted for engineering and technical courses. The preparation was more rigorous and there were far fewer seats for the former than in the latter, the NTA said.

‘JEE has centres abroad’

It was responding to the parents’ argument that the JEE had centres in foreign countries as well. The JEE is both an online and offline mode examination.

The parents, represented by advocates Haris Beeran and Pallavi Pratap, had asked the court to step in and spare their children from being forced to travel to India to take their exams amid the pandemic.

The petition said the MCI and the NTA should, in the alternative, not conduct the exams in the shadow of the pandemic. In that case, the authorities should wait till COVID-19 blows over.

“Students are helpless to write the examination as international travel is banned to and from India. Assuming that they have seats in Vande Bharat Mission flights, the students will be exposed to COVID-19 risks as also they would have to undergo quarantine on their arrival in India”, the parents said.

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