The Supreme Court on Monday, 24 August, directed the Centre to fly in NEET UG aspirants from Middle Eastern countries through the Vande Bharat scheme, while adding that such students and their parents will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day institutional quarantine upon their arrival in India.
While refusing to direct the Centre to hold NEET at centres in the Middle East or online, a bench of Justices Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat, also allowed the petitioner to approach states seeking relaxation from quarantine restrictions.
Who had filed the petition and why?
The petition was filed in the Supreme Court by Abdul Azeez, the parent of a NEET aspirant who is based out of Qatar, after the Kerala High Court ruled against the setting up of NEET centres in Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries.
Azeez had prayed that that since around 4,000 NEET aspirants are stuck in Middle Eastern countries owing to the COVID-19 situation, they should be allowed to write exams at centres in Qatar and other places in the Middle East.
What did the Medical Council of India say?
In its affidavit, the Medical Council of India had told the Supreme Court NEET is an examination in paper book format and that such uniformity has to be maintained for all candidates.
The MCI said that since the exam has to be conducted at the same time and date everywhere, it would not be possible to conduct it at centres abroad due to “different time zones, logistical issues and secrecy of test papers”.
The MCI had also said that the sanctity of NEET would be disturbed if exams were not held at the same time, leading to the possibility of a question paper leak. It also said that the safe distribution of question papers across the globe wasn’t possible.
Based on these arguments, the MCI had said that the petition “does not deserve indulgence from this Hon'ble Court in view of the fact that the Government of India has permitted travel to and from other countries, through Vande Bharat mission”.
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