On 19 July, the Lok Sabha passed Bills aimed at establishing a single common examination for medical and dental courses.
The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016 provide a Constitutional status to the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) examination.
The Bills seek to amend the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and the Dentists Act, 1948 and replace the ordinance that was promulgated by the government to circumvent the Supreme Court order for implementation of the NEET examination this session itself.
Moving the Bills, health minister JP Nadda said there were three main objectives behind the move - namely, to end the multiplicity of examinations, to have fair and transparent examinations and to adopt a non-exploitative process.
He had previously said that students would have to travel long distances to appear for several medical entrance examinations. Currently students are exploited particularly in connection with capitation fees, he said, adding the new legislation will end this.
Responding to apprehensions expressed by members, particularly Tamil Nadu where reservation is upto 85%, he clarified, "We are not going to touch the state quota. Students in Tamil Nadu will be competing in Tamil Nadu only.. We should be very much clear about that."
However, AIADMK members were not satisfied and staged a walkout.
Nadda said the exam will be held on the basis of the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus and the undergraduate exam will be taken up by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the postgraduate exam by the national board of examination. "In the syllabus, we will take care of the differences and we will do standardisation of syllabus so that rural students can also taken care of," he added.
Responding to the contention by some members that the NEET will provide benefits to private institutions, Nadda said their exams will also be conducted under the NEET.
On the concerns over fees in private medical colleges, he said a committee of judges will decide the fees for private colleges while the government will do it for government institutes.
With regard to apprehensions over whether exams will be conducted in regional languages, Nadda said, "we will also arrange test in regional languages and that is not an issue".
The health ministry has written to all the states seeking details about the number of students who appeared in local languages in the last three years so that the Centre can make plans accordingly.
Nadda also responded to concerns over the involvement of the Medical Council of India as some members alleged that the body is "corrupt" and does not perform its duties properly. "A committee has been set up by the Prime Minister and that is at the final stage. Stakeholders have been called. The report is being finalised. We take cognisance of the issue," he said.
RSP member Premachandran, who had moved statutory amendments to the Bill, praised Nadda for addressing all issues in a "clear manner". While not going ahead with moving the amendments, he said, "I am very much impressed" by the minister's response.
Premachandran said he fully agrees with the content of the Bill but disapproves of the ordinance route adopted by the Centre.
Cutting across party lines, members also cited judicial overreach and said the Supreme Court should not dictate government on what to do.
Former Union Health Minister and PMK leader Anbumani Former Union Health Minister and PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss voiced strong opposition to NEET saying it is against "social justice, social equity" apart from doing "gross injustice to rural students". Asking what is the need for an entrance examination, he said NEET should be done away with and urged the government to take up the matter with the Supreme Court.