NEET centers abroad: India’s Supreme Court will not intervene


India’s Supreme Court Monday declined a plea that urged it to intervene to set up exam centers abroad for NEET — the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for admission to undergraduate medical courses in India.

The plea had urged the court to direct the federal government and the National Testing Agency (NTA) to set up NEET exam centers abroad for the benefit of students in foreign countries in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta, and S Ravindra Bhat asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to discuss with ministries concerned whether students who wish to visit India to sit for the NEET exam could be accommodated on the Vande Bharat Mission flights.

The court asked Mehta to explore the possibility that aspirants based out of the Middle East countries were permitted to board such flights.

The bench also noted that the incoming students are permitted to approach the state governments concerned for relaxations in quarantine periods.

According to the rules, people arriving in India from abroad are required to undergo 14-day quarantine in the interest of public health.

The Supreme Court orally directed Mehta to inform the ministries concerned that these students may be allowed to come back to take the exam.

Mehta contended before the bench that the issue could be taken care of, subject to quarantine requirements and that they establish that they were coming for the exam.

The top court told the petitioners’ counsel that he could ask his clients to plan their return in the backdrop of quarantine requirements. The counsel argued that many students abroad intended to sit in both the NEET and Joint Entrance Exams (JEE).

The petitioners said that only six-day gap between JEE (September 1-6) and NEET exam (September 13) was also an issue.

The petitioners had moved the apex court to challenge a Kerala High Court order to dismiss their plea to set up examination centers abroad, or postpone the exams due to the pandemic.

The Indian government has already decided not to postpone the NEET and JEE exams.