SC refuses to direct holding NEET abroad, asks to allow students to come via Vande Bharat Mission

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to pass direction to the Central government to hold the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) Undergraduate (UG) 2020 examination in Gulf countries, but asked the government to allow students to come via Vande Bharat Mission flights to give the exams.

A bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao said that the quarantine norms are mandatory for students who would come from the Middle East countries to give exam but allowed petitioners to approach State authorities to seek relaxation.

The bench said the exam will be offline and the students who fly in will have to maintain the 14 days quarantine in view of public health.

The top court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to speak to ministries concerned to ensure aspirants, for the NEET scheduled on September 13, residing in the Middle East are permitted to come to India in Vande Bharat Mission flights.

Recently, the Medical Council of India has told the apex court that postponement of the NEET UG 2020 examination of this year any further shall be a “drastic deviation” from the academic schedule which may affect the subsequent academic years of the students.

The MCI, in an affidavit, had said plea for overseas examination centres for NEET (UG) does not deserve indulgence from the top court in view of the fact that the Government of India has permitted travel to and from other countries, through Vande Bharat Mission.

The Central government, under the Vande Bharat Mission, has permitted Indian citizens, including overseas citizens of India, to come to India by special flights, the affidavit has added while seeking dismissal of the plea.

The top court was hearing plea filed by parents of nearly 4,000 NEET (UG) candidates, who sought to alternatively postpone the examination until the COVID-19 pandemic normalises.

The parents of these candidates, who reside in Doha, Qatar, Oman, and UAE, have approached the apex court challenging the Kerala High Court June 30 order which had dismissed their plea.

In their appeal against the Kerala High Court order, the general secretary of Kerala Muslim Culture Centre in Qatar, Abdul Azeez said that the National Testing Agency (NTA) had the capability and willingness to open exam centres in Gulf countries as they had been doing so for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Main).

Earlier, the NTA had told the court that it is not possible to have overseas examination centres NEET (UG) 2020 as the examination is conducted in paper book format.