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Supreme Court on Friday rejected the plea seeking to postpone National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for Postgraduate (NEET-PG 2022) examination.

The apex court said that the delay would cause the unavailability of doctors and seriously affect patient care.  “There are two categories of students -- one which is seeking postponement and the larger category of over two lakh six thousand candidates -- who would be affected by the postponement after having prepared for the examination", the bench said.

It noted that the government is trying to bring back the schedule of examination on time as it was affected due to the pandemic.

“As the country gets back on the rails, which was derailed due to the pandemic, the time schedule laid down by this court must be adhered to", it said.

The NEET-PG examination for 2022 is scheduled to be held on May 21.

Earlier, the plea filed through advocates Ashutosh Dubey and Abhishek Chauhan said, “The petitioners are the doctors who are doing their requisite internship with different hospitals across the country. The petitioners aspire to appear in NEET-PG examination 2022 scheduled to be held on May 21 for the purpose of choosing their career option as per their ranking, choice, and available options to them under different branches of medical science for Post-Graduation Courses".

The plea sought direction to quash the notification dated February 4 issued by the National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences for holding the NEET PG-2022 examination on May 21 and or defer the scheduled date of the examination.

It said that some of the petitioners and aspirants are the candidates who have appeared in NEET-PG 2021 and are participants in the ongoing counselling process which is unlikely to get concluded by May 9, 2022, considering the roller-coaster ride which they have been subjected to since July 2021.

“The petitioners and other thousands of aspirants are becoming victims of the system and are made to suffer for no fault of their own", the plea said, which has been filed by 15 doctors who have done their MBBS courses.

The plea said it raises substantial and important questions of law like as to why should NEET-PG 2022 aspirants/candidates be made to suffer and not be given a fair opportunity for participation in the NEET-PG examination 2022 when the counselling of last academic year NEET-PG 2021 is still undergoing and likely to be over by May 9.

It further raised the question of whether the petitioners can be deprived of even filling up forms for the NEET-PG examination 2022, as the last date for it was closed on March 25 and the petitioners being participants in AIQ Mop-UP counselling did not fill out a form than in the hope of getting the seat and now after the cancellation of AIQ Mop-UP on March 31 because of the fault of the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) and others.

It said that the petitioners are now not even allowed to fill forms for the NEET-PG examination and thus the candidates neither got the seat in 2021 examination counselling nor could register for NEET-PG 2022 examination and would be wasting a full year without their fault.

The plea raised several other substantial questions of law.

It said, “Thus it is stated that the present petition is filed with an intention to secure the future of the petitioners allowing them to excel in the educational sphere of their life. It is submitted that NEET-PG 2022 aspirants/candidates should not be made to suffer and be given a fair opportunity to participate in the NEET-PG examination 2022 when the counselling of last year's NEET-PG 2021 is still undergoing and likely to be over by May 9".

The plea further said that there was a delay in conducting the NEET-PG 2021 examination to ensure the availability of a larger number of qualified doctors for COVID duties and the examination was finally conducted in September 2021, five months after the scheduled date, resultantly because of this delay, the candidates have practically lost a year of their careers.

“That the respondents have erred in not considering that the NEET-PG 2022 examination was rescheduled from March 12, 2022, to that of May 21, 2022, as the counselling of NEET-PG 2021 was not over and overlapping with the examination date", it said.

The plea sought MCC to notify a fresh date of examination for NEET-PG 2022 after eight weeks so that the issue of counselling for the NEET-PG 2021 examination gets settled and there is no overlap with NEET-PG 2022 examination.

It also sought direction to MCC and Centre to permit the students/aspirants to register themselves for the NEET-PG 2022 examination as they were participating in counselling for NEET-PG 2021 examination and the last date of filling the form was of March 25.

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