Dear Justice Dave,
I edit Careers360, a magazine and portal that seeks to help students make better education and career choices by providing authentic information. We serve about 8-10 million children each month.
For the last three days since your historic order the phone lines in our counseling center has not stopped ringing. 100s of parents, children and their well-wishers are calling worried. Will the exam stand? Will NEET 2 happen? Why can’t NEET 1 aspirants write NEET 2? What will happen to KEAM which has already been conducted? Questions fly thick and fast. We seek to reassure them despite the picture actually being murky. But one thing stands out in all the callers. They are fundamentally happy if there is a single test. And they applaud you for taking a stand.
At the risk of sounding presumptuous let me remind you the thought you had in that dissenting judgment you gave in 2013 in page 186 “From and among those students, who have secured prescribed qualifying marks, the concerned institutions, who want to give priority to the students belonging to a particular class or caste or creed or religion or region, etc. would be in a position to give preference to such students in the matter of their admission to the concerned medical college. Thus, the purpose with which the Articles 25, 26, 29, and 30 are incorporated in our Constitution would be fully respected and implemented.”
A fascinating thought. I think it is this thought that I think led to the 28th April order. But Sir, I must acknowledge the issue of state govt’s conducting their own test, issues of multiple boards and their differential standards, and the reasonable arguments by states like Tamil Nadu who have banned entrance exams and admit students based on their performance in state board exams are not considered in depth in your judgment in 2013. Some of them are quite reasonable and I am hazarding a guess that you decided to hear issues of state level exams etc. on 3rd May stems from this acknowledgement.
But Hon’ Justice Dave please do not throw the baby with the bath water. Based on my interactions with children let me suggest some ways out to hold to the prime principle that governed your judgment and the overarching need to ensure that admission are fair, transparent and non- exploitative.
The crux of the objection to NEET is threefold:
a) Many students might have not taken AIPMT seriously and put all their eggs on their state entrance/state board. And some might have opted for AIPMT on a lark. This is a fact. And they might be inconvenienced if AIPMT becomes NEET and decides their fate. They are not represented before your Hon Court sir at all. But this issue is real
b) States like Tamil Nadu do not conduct entrance exams. Board marks decide students’ fate. So in these states, I know lakhs of student who study up to 10th in CBSE boards, opt for easier state board at 12th to score better and get a course of their choice. And there is also an issue of rural students who study for the boards as if their life depends on it. They too exist. And I am sure Tamil Nadu counsel would ably argue that before you on Monday.
c) You have demolished the arguments of institutions like CMC, Vellore /AIIMS that seek a separate entrance exam citing their uniqueness in your judgment. So, I am not interested in laboring that point again. But they would again be at it on Monday or the next day of hearing
Here is probably a way out Justice Dave.
a) Let AIPMT on 1st may continue to be NEET 1. Allow students who took AIPMT to appear for NEET 2 if they so wish.
b) Let the NEET 2 announced for July/August be open to everybody including those who take NEET 1. All those students who seek admissions could prepare and give the test. They have time, and enough notice. And no surprises. Let CBSE prepare a merit list based on the best performance in either one AIPMT/NEET. This way, students have nothing to complain.
c) For this year allow individual states to either admit students based on marks in their board/ or NEET. Either the state must have enough faith on its own board so that scores in it must be sufficient enough to admit students in its colleges. Or it must go through a national test. This is a sub-optimal solution. But might serve the purpose of the state governments and remove their opposition temporarily.
d) All other institutions whether it is AIIMS or JIPMER or CMC must either admit students through their respective state merit list or the NEET merit list. They could have their choice.
e) Until we could have a common board throughout the country, it should either be one national entrance or one board performance. Either way it will be one TEST finally.
Sir, you and your bench made a good order. Please make it better. But do not allow the cacophony of multiple voices to drown out the fundamentals.
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