Students from abroad who wish to sit for the national eligibility test for medical and dental courses should be accommodated in the Vande Bharat flights, the Supreme Court told the government today. The court also suggested to the Medical Council of India -- which conducts NEET -- that from next year, the exam can be held online to bypass the accessibility issues.
Earlier this month, the court had dismissed a petition to postpone the crucial Joint Entrance main exam and the NEET -- scheduled for September --- in view of the coronavirus outbreak. A number of political leaders have asked the government to reconsider the issue.
The judgment from the court, which came on August 17, has created difficulty for the parents and students living abroad as international flight services remain suspended due to the pandemic.
The students had gone to the top court, asking that the government set up overseas centres for the exam. "Like JEE, which has exam centres abroad, NEET should also have centres as the students cannot come to India to write the examinations," argued Harris Beeran, who was representing the petitioners.
"If the Joint Entrance Exam can be held online then you should consider NEET also to be held in an online form from next year," the court suggested to the Medical Council of India.
For this year, the three-judge bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat said the Centre should pitch in and ensure that the overseas students reach in time to take the exam.
"Please communicate to the concerned ministries that these people may be allowed to come back for the exams," the court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Centre.
Mr Mehta said it can be done "subject to quarantine requirements and establishing that they are coming for exam purpose."
The court said it cannot pass directions on relaxing quarantine conditions, but asked the state governments to consider the issue.