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Supreme Court Declares the Set Date for Conducting INI CET as Arbitrary and Thereby Directs AIIMS To Postpone INI CET 2021 for One Month Due to COVID

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Facts of the case

In this case, writ petitions were filed by doctors with an MBBS degree, who endeavored to appear for the Institute of National Importance Combined Admission Test (INI CET) for admission to the Post Graduate courses for the July 2021 session in the units of AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), PGIMER Chandigarh, JIPMER Puducherry, and NIMHANS Bengaluru. Further, these Writ Petitions were directed against Notice No. 81/2021 dated 27.05.2021 issued by the AIIMS Examination Centre. In this Notice, a rescheduling was done by the AIIMS of the INI CET. It was decided that the INI CET for the July 2021 session would be held on 16th June 2021. However, as per the Petitioners, this decision of rescheduling by AIIMs was hasty. It was further submitted that the decision to conduct INI CET 2021 on 16th June 2021 has seriously prejudiced innumerable aspirants for admission to Post Graduate courses of the institutions of national importance, who were currently serving in Covid hospitals in various parts of the country. Moreover, many of the aspirants have been rendering services at Covid Centres located far away from the examination centres for which they have opted. Besides this, Petitioners contended that conducting the INI CET at such short notice was arbitrary, unfair on the aspirants for the INI CET and thereby filed present petitions.

Arguments before the Court  

Mr Datar, Learned Senior Counsel on behalf of the Petitioners firstly pointed out that the INI CET was being conducted to fill up 850 MD and MS seats in 6 units of AIIMS, PGIMER Chandigarh, JIPMER Puducherry, and NIMHANS Bengaluru. And about 80,000 doctors with the MBBS degree were expected to take the INI CET. Furthermore, the Post Graduate courses of medical colleges, other than those mentioned above, were through the NEET-PG, which according to the Petitioners had been already postponed beyond 31st August 2021. Moreover, numerous examinations had been postponed on account of the pandemic including the Civil Services Examination. Also, it is not clear whether some examinations including Board examinations for this year will at all be held. So, why was this examination held in such haste? 

Moreover, conducting the INI CET at such short notice was arbitrary, unfair on the aspirants for the INI CET, and will cause gross injustice. According to the Petitioners, the concerned doctors had been previously assured that they would be given sufficient time, of at least a month, to prepare for the admission test. However, the Petitioners stated that the decision to conduct the exam had been conveyed merely 18 days in advance and therefore, there was hardly any time left with the aspirants to prepare for their examination.

 Court’s observations

The Court heard the contentions made by the Petitioners and observed that various other important examinations including Joint Entrance Examinations, Board Examinations, etc. had been already postponed, and thereby fixing of the INI CET on 16.06.2021 was unquestionably arbitrary and discriminatory. Moreover, under the current upsurge of the pandemic, it was very difficult for the aspirants to give their examinations. As some of the aspirants as submitted by the Petitioners may be under isolation period or may be affected by the COVID-19.

Furthermore, the Court observed the concerned news reports of extensions of lockdown, in many States. Besides this, it was also reported that in Odisha State, because of the situation of the pandemic the lockdown had been extended till 16th June 2021. And even in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and also in Kolkata, the lockdown had been extended till 15th June 2021. Because of these lockdown conditions, 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. Moreover, many of the doctors were exposed to and are running the risk of contracting Covid 19 and they may have to isolate and/or quarantine themselves. And thereby under such circumstances, it would not be possible for the students to write/seat for their examination on 16th June. Moreover, holding the INI CET on 16th June 2021 will also result in the spread of the virus and an increase in Covid 19 cases. Therefore, INI CET was to be postponed. 

Court’s Decision 

Considering the above—mentioned observations and circumstances of the case, the Court directed the INI CET to be postponed by at least a month from 16th June 2021. Thereby the impugned notice was, therefore, set aside. Further, the AIIMS shall fix a convenient date for the INI CET at least one month after 16th June 2021. With the aforesaid observations, the Writ Petitions are disposed of. Pending application, if any, stands disposed.

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