“It is probably ‘innocence and ignorance of official processes' that made MCI issue notifications: sources
Ending the confusion over common entrance tests for graduate and postgraduate courses in medicine, the Centre on Wednesday said the Health Ministry would have the last word in the matter and since the two notifications issued by the Medical Council of India had been declared “invalid” by the Ministry, these should be considered withdrawn.
Rejecting the contention that the MCI Board of Governors was “overstepping” its brief, sources in the Ministry told The Hindu that it was probably “innocence and ignorance of the official processes” on the part of the Council that made it issue the notifications and refuse to withdraw them.
In case the Centre at any point in future decided to hold such a test, the notifications could be revived, the sources explained.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has written to Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad seeking a review of the CET proposal. Earlier also, he opposed the proposal and even spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, following which the notifications were put on hold. The Chief Minister said he was writing to Mr. Azad to register his protest.
The MCI notifications would mean a single entrance examination for MBBS and MD courses offered by all 271 medical colleges — 138 run by government and 133 under private management.
The issue will be discussed at next week's meeting of the State Health Ministers and Secretaries convened by Mr. Azad. An attempt would be made to take the States on board as medical education is on the Concurrent List and nothing could be done without their consent, the sources said.
Officials in the Ministry said the MCI notifications resulted in confusion among students as many States had already started the process of entrance examinations for MBBS admissions, as had many private colleges and deemed universities. The entrance examinations are held soon after the Class XII Board examinations are over across the country. In any case, the officials explained, private colleges, minority institutions and deemed universities could not be legally bound to be part of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for graduate and postgraduate medical courses through a regulation. This would need an Act of Parliament, as there were issues of domicile in several States and reservation in all others.
The way out
Many States were already surrendering 50 per cent of their postgraduate seats to the Central pool and would be unwilling to give up the remaining seats also. The only way out would be to arrive at a “give and take” formula, the sources said.
While the Ministry itself is supporting the idea of a CET to reduce the burden on students who, at present, write as many as 17 entrance tests, it wants to go ahead, taking along all the States and stakeholders to ensure that there is no litigation which would stall the entire process for years.