NEET Ordinance gets Prez assent, decks cleared for UG medical admissions by states

New Delhi: Decks were cleared on Tuesday for exempting state government medical colleges from the Supreme Court-mandated single All India entrance exam for a year with President Pranab Mukherjee giving his assent to the NEET Ordinance before he embarked on his China visit.

Ending the uncertainty on the fate of the Ordinance after the President raised some queries on the measure that was
cleared by the Union Cabinet on Friday, states now have the option of either conducting their own exam or be part of the NEET to fill 85 per cent of the Under Graduate (UG) medical and dental seats. 15 per cent of the remaining seats will be filled through NEET route by all India counselling.

Union Health Minister J P Nadda while giving details of the Ordinance, which, he said gave a "firm statutory status" to the concept of Uniform Entrance Examination, however, made it very clear that all private medical colleges and deemed universities will come under the ambit of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test(NEET).

However, for PG courses, the exam will be held under NEET for 2017-18 session, in December this year. Nadda said that the necessity of promulgating the Ordinance arose as the Supreme Court is presently in vacation while both the Houses of Parliament had been adjourned sine-die.

Allaying apprehensions that the Centre is trying to defer NEET through the Ordinance, Nadda said that NEET is already implemented and the second phase will be held on July 24. "The purpose of the Ordinance is to provide a firm statutory status to the concept of Uniform Entrance Examination for all undergraduate and post graduate admissions in medical or dental colleges while providing a relaxation to the state governments in relation to only UG admissions for this year [2016-17] in view of their difficulties," he told reporters.

Mukherjee signed the Ordinance this morning after Health Ministry officials returned with the file addressing all the queries raised by him.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was at the President's Secretariat early this morning along with the top ministry officials to respond to clarifications sought by Mukherjee on the NEET issue.

"All private institutions and medical colleges will come under the ambit of NEET. The state governments will get an option to either conduct their own exam or go for NEET to fill UG seats.

"The states will have an option. Approximately five states have undertaken their test. 6.5 lakh candidates have appeared in various state exams. 6.25 lakh have appeared in NEET 1," Nadda said.

Nadda said that the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 and The Dentists (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 are being promulgated to amend the Indian Medical Council Act 1956 and Dentists Act, 1948 respectively.

The Ordinance was brought in to provide for a uniform entrance examination for UG and PG admissions with a proviso that for UG admission for the year 2016-17 only, the state government seats (both in government and private medical colleges) shall be exempt from the purview of NEET regulations if the State so opts.

Nadda said that the Ordinance addresses the concerns expressed by states and political parties. He said that it was the Centre which had approached the Supreme Court in the matter with the review petition and said it is strongly committed to NEET.

Nadda said that only state government seats in government medical colleges and state government seats in private institutions will have exemption for the current year.

The Minister said that the management quota seats shall be filled by the respective private colleges, associations of colleges or private universities or deemed universities through the NEET UG-2016 examination in all the states "even for this year.

"The necessity of promulgating the Ordinances arose since the Supreme Court is in vacation presently and both Houses of the Parliament had adjourned sine-die by May 13, 2016," he said.

He said that six states and one UT are already participating in the NEET this year and the Ordinances will allow them as well as any other state, which so opts, to fill up their state seats from NEET for 2016-17 UG admissions.

"The President today morning signed the Ordinance which was sent to him by the Union Cabinet. Following this, the legal procedure has been initiated. It will be notified today," he added.

Stressing that the exemption to the state governments from NEET is only for a year, Nadda said that this was strongly requested by the states at the meeting of the state health ministers recently after they cited three reasons--state level examinations already conducted, exams conducted in regional languages and the syllabi were different from the All India PMT.

"All parties reiterated that while they were all in -principle in favour of holding NEET, it would be prudent and in the larger interest of lakhs of students to allow the state governments to continue with their existing procedures for filling up of UG seats for 2016-17 in respect to state government seats," Nadda said.

He said Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Chandigarh have conducted exams under NEET. Bihar too has opted for NEET from this year though Delhi is yet to take a decision, he said. Nadda said the states that have deferred the exams are West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Assam and Andhra Pradesh.

He said the states had not effectively put forth their views in the right perspective before the Supreme Court. "In order to provide them relief, we brought this Ordinance," he added.

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