NEET-MDS 2024: Entrance Exam On Schedule After Supreme Court Dismisses Plea For Postponement

New Delhi: NEET-MDS, the postgraduate dental entrance examination, will go ahead on schedule next Monday (March 18).

The decks for the entrance exam were cleared on Friday after the Supreme Court dismissed an application by dentists seeking parity with the conduct of the postgraduate medical examination NEET-PG, scheduled for July 7.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud noted that nearly 28,000 candidates are due to appear for the exam and the petitioners, who moved the application at the eleventh hour, originally sought extension of the March 31, 2024 deadline for the completion of internship in order to be eligible to sit for NEET-MDS.

The CJI-headed bench said that this concern was taken care of as the Central government extended the internship deadline to June 30. After this decision, the portal to register for the exam was opened from March 9-11, during which 568 more candidates registered.

“We think it will be inappropriate for this court to intervene at this stage considering the parameters laid down for judicial review. We, hence, decline to intervene in the present matter,” the bench, also comprising justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, said.

On February 21, Supreme Court passed an order on a separate set of petitions filed by 11 dentists seeking extension of internship deadline.

The apex court allowed them to move a representation to the Centre. “Since the issue of fixing cut-off date essentially pertains to the policy domain, it would be more appropriate to submit a representation… We direct that the representation be dealt with expeditiously and preferably within a period of one week from the date of this order,” the court said last month.

Advocate Gaurav Sharma, appearing for National Dental Commission (NDC), said that following the order, the commission gathered data from all dental colleges on the completion of internship dates and forwarded it to the government. He submitted that there were different dates of internship deadlines due to the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, and with admissions having been delayed that year, it impacted internship dates also.

“An effort is being made to put the academic calendar back on the rails and for this, a tough decision has to be taken in some year,” Sharma said, adding that NEET-PG cannot be compared with NEET-MDS.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves said the issue before the court concerns nearly 6,000 students who will lose a year till they become eligible for the MDS examination next year.

He argued that students should not suffer for the fault of NDC which failed to carry out an online survey seeking responses from colleges before fixing dates. This was done by National Medical Commission (NMC), hence the examination has been fixed for July 7 and internship cut-off eligibility extended till August 15.

The court was firm in countering this argument.

“Assuming you are correct, 28,000 students have prepared for this examination. This often happens. In India with 1.4 billion, there will always be a problem with cut-off dates. Now they will appear next year,” the Justice Chandrachud-headed bench ruled.

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