SC orders postponement of INI-CET exam by a month due to Covid-19

The apex court was hearing petitions challenging the conduct of INI CET exam on June 16

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the postponement of the National Importance Combined Entrance Test (INI CET) 2021 examination for admission to postgraduate medical courses in AIIMS, JIPMER, PGIMER and NIMHANS, scheduled for June 16, by at least one month in view of the Covid-19 situation.

A Bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice MR Shah directed the All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS) to postpone the exam by atleast a month observing that the fixation of the exam date on June 16 is "arbitrary".

The Bench said, "Considering that the candidates have been rendering Covid duties far away from Centres chosen and inadequate time for preparation, we are of the view that fixation of the date on June 16 is arbitrary. We direct AIIMS to postpone the exam by atleast one month. Needless to mention that authorities of AIIMS would give an appropriate date from one month from June 16."

The apex court was hearing petitions challenging the conduct of the National Importance Combined Entrance Test (INI CET) examination on June 16.

The pleas also sought directions to postpone the exam being conducted for admission to postgraduate courses in leading Government Medical Institutes in the country including AIIMS, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) and National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS).

It also issued notice to Health Ministry, Home Ministry and National Medical Council on pleas by final year MD students to delay the final exams as the resident doctors have been on Covid duty and have not had time to prepare for exams.

The lawyers of doctors told the court that they will not press the prayer to cancel the exam but need deferring of the exam so the doctors have time to study.

Two petitions were filed in the top court - one filed by a group of 23 MBBS doctors and another filed by the Indian Medical Association, Medical Student Network (Chhattisgarh Chapter) along with 35 serving doctors currently serving in Covid duties.

Meanwhile, the apex court refused to entertain a petition in the matter that wants exams to be cancelled.

During the hearing, senior advocate Arvind Datar told the bench about the appeal made by the Prime Minister to MBBS doctors to join Covid duties and the assurance made by him to postpone the NEET exam.
"The NEET exams scheduled in May were postponed to August too. If that be the case, why can not INI-CET be also postponed," Datar contended.

AIIMS has failed to take into account that many students are currently posted in Covid duties and writing an examination will require them to leave the duty and travelling for doctors posted in rural areas will be a cumbersome process, he added.

Appearing for AIIMS, advocate Dushyant Parashar told the apex court that the prospectus was issued in March and the candidates were well aware of the exams.

If the exams stay, there will be a scarcity of doctors, he said, adding that the INI-CET is held twice in a year and if the petitioners have any difficulty in attending the June exams, they can appear for the next exams scheduled in October-November.

Parashar further said that arrangements for exams are ready across 32 states and the Covid situation has improved in many parts of the country.

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