New Delhi, Jun 11 (PTI) The Supreme Court Friday termed as "arbitrary and discriminatory" the fixing of June 16 for conducting INI CET 2021 and directed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to hold the post graduate medical entrance test after one month.

A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and M R Shah disposed of a plea filed by doctors seeking admission to PG medical and challenging the notification of fixing June 16 as date of INI CET 2021.

“Having regard to the circumstances pleaded, the fixing of the INI CET on June 16, 2021 is arbitrary and discriminatory, more so since other important examinations including Joint Entrance Examinations, Board Examinations have been postponed.

"The impugned notice is, therefore, set aside. The INI CET is directed to be postponed by at least a month from June 16, 2021,” the bench said.

It said that the AIIMS shall fix a convenient date for the INI CET at least one month after June 16, 2021.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar and advocate Tanvi Dubey, appearing for the doctors, Indian Medical Association and Medical Student Network (Chhattisgarh Chapter), said the decision to hold examination is unfair and arbitrary as it was conveyed to the candidates merely 19 days in advance.

Datar said that notice dated May 27, 2021 fixing date of examination as June 16 suffers from the vice of irregularity and arbitrariness as it is even against the spirit of the statement issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi wherein NEET-PG exam was postponed for 4 months in a bid to provide adequate human resources for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that the statement issued by the Press Information Bureau said that NEET-PG will not be held before August 31, 2021 and the students will also be given at least one-month after the announcement of the exam before it is conducted.

“Doctors were required to do 100 days of COVID duty and they will be given certificates and priority in government jobs,” Datar said, adding that most of the doctors have left to faraway places to do the COVID duty.

He said, “It would be extremely difficult, if not virtually impossible for many candidates for the INI CET to reach their examination centres from their places of duty. Many of the doctors are exposed to and are running the risk of contracting COVID-19 and they may have to isolate and/or quarantine themselves. Even otherwise, holding the INICET on June 16 will result in spread of the virus and increase in COVID-19 cases.”

Advocate Dushyant Parashar, appearing for AIIMS, opposed the submission of Datar and said the examination is held twice a year and if anyone has problem then they can appear in the examination to be held in November.

He said that a prospectus for the examination was released on March 1 for the July 2021 session and the test is to be conducted in 139 cities of 32 states/UT of the country.

“The current outgoing batch of about 1000 Junior Doctors will exit by the end of July from all participating Institutes. If the timely replacement has not been provided, it will adversely and severely affect the working of attached hospital and patient care,” Parashar said.

He said the country is facing unprecedented circumstances and it is necessary to keep the medical workforce in ready state for upcoming eventualities.

“Any stay on examination will cause a setback in patient care with a shortfall of 1000 medical professionals and complete loss of a session to the brightest medical students”, he submitted.

Parashar contended that in the meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, the decision was taken with regard to NEET-PG and not for INI CET.

He referred to the decisions of the top court during the first wave of COVID-19 last year in which several competitive examinations were allowed to be held.

The bench told Parashar that last year the situation was different compared to this year.

Parashar further said that the NEET-PG examination was for about 1.7 lakh candidates and NEET UG was for 16 lakhs candidates whereas INI CET schedule for June 16 is only for 72,138 candidates.

He said that the INI CET that was scheduled in May was postponed as the COVID cases were on the rise and there was too much risk involved in holding the examination.

“As now the COVID cases have dropped sharply and there is ease on things...the decision was taken to conduct the examination in the interest of candidates, citizen of the country to fill the requirement of medical workforce in all concerned Institutes,” he said.

Parashar said that postponing the examination will disturb the whole schedule of other examinations including internal examination and may be a possibility that AIIMS may not get any slot and complete session will be lost with a shortfall of around 1000 junior doctors across Institutes.

The Institute of National Importance Combined Entrance Test (INI-CET) is a Post Graduate entrance test for courses like MD/MS/M.Ch (6yrs)/DM (6yrs)/MDS.

The INI-CET PG Course Examination is being conducted by AIIMS, New Delhi for admission in medical PG Courses at Institute of National Importance (INI) which include eight AIIMS across the country, PGIMER-Chandigarh, JIPMER-Puducherry and NIHMANS-Bangalore.

The INI CET 2021 was initially scheduled to be held on May 8 but was rescheduled to June 16 due to the COVID pandemic.

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