In what brings partial relief to Urdu medium students, the Centre has agreed to include it in the list of languages to give the National Entrance and Eligibility Test (NEET), but from next academic year. An affidavit to add Urdu as one of the languages that NEET papers could be answered in, was submitted before the Supreme Court on Friday. However, the Students’ Islamic Organisation (SIO), which filed the petition, is pressing for Urdu to be included in NEET from this session itself, though the application deadline is over.

In the last hearing (on March 3), SC had demanded an explanation from the central government and Medical Council of India (MCI) for excluding Urdu from the list of languages available for NEET. Yesterday, in its response, the centre submitted before SC that it is open to the idea of conducting NEET in Urdu, but from the next session, not 2017. It was also stated by the government that no state wanted to conduct NEET in Urdu when there was a meeting held with state ministers on November 16, 2016, regarding NEET.

Mohammad Ali, Maharashtra State Secretary of the SIO, said, “It may be correct that when there was a meeting of state ministers regarding NEET nobody demanded it be conducted in Urdu. However, later several requests were sent to the Centre demanding inclusion of Urdu in NEET. It is only a partial victory for us as from next year Urdu will be included in NEET. We will continue to press for inclusion of Urdu from this academic year.”

The next hearing is now scheduled for March 24.

A senior official from the Central Board of Secondary and Education (CBSE), which conducts the examination, said, “Even as the application window can be reopened for Urdu students, it will be difficult to conduct the test in Urdu at such short notice. The examination material needs to be created in all the languages given as options to students. These aspects will be verified before submitting the response to SC for the next hearing.”