As President Pranab Mukherjee signed an ordinance on the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) on Tuesday, union Health Minister J.P. Nadda said this will provide it a statutory status.
The ordinance exempts certain state boards from the ambit of the NEET for a year. The exempted states include Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab.
Addressing a press conference here, the health minister said while the states will be able to hold the under-graduate medical entrance exams, the post-graduate exams to be held in December will be conducted under NEET.
"Government of India was always in favour of NEET and, in fact, it was the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that had gone for a review petition. There were a lot of hurdles in the way and there were many parties to the issue. But we got it cleared and we want the NEET to be implemented," Nadda said.
"State governments wanted exemption and the issues were related to parity of syllabus and option of giving exam in regional languages," the minister added.
Officials from the health ministry informed IANS that five states — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tripura — have conveyed to the central government that they will be conducting their own examination to induct students to medical colleges.
Nadda said that all private medical colleges will come under the ambit of NEET.
"All private institutions and medical colleges will come under the ambit of NEET. The state governments will get an option to either conduct their own exam or go for NEET to fill UG (under-graduate) seats. However, for PG (post-graduate) courses, the exam will be held under NEET for 2017-18 session, in December this year," Nadda said.
"The states will have an option. Approximately five states have undertaken their test. About 6.5 lakh candidates have appeared in various state exams," he added.
Although Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had deferred their exams, Bihar has informed the union government that the seats in the private colleges there will be filled throgh NEET, a health ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.
He added that Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Chandigarh have conducted exams under NEET this year.
However, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement NEET across the country from this year, is yet to take a stand on the issue, the official said.
Officials said that the President was on Monday briefed by Nadda on three main issues with regard to different exams of the state boards, syllabi and regional languages.
This was followed by another briefing of te President by the health ministry officials after which the file was taken back by them Monday night only to return on Tuesday morning with additional information and legal advice.