NEET 2020: The National Testing Agency has told the Supreme Court that it is not possible to have overseas examination centers for National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test (NEET) Undergraduate (UG) 2020 as the examination is conducted in paper book format.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, NTA pointed out that “…NEET 2020 (UG) has to be conducted in single-shift at the same time, on the same day to maintain uniformity and, further, the questions papers and other exam materials are to be transported from NTA headquarters to a large number of examination centers in various cities, which would require meticulous planning for safe and secured delivery of the same at the examination centers on time.”

NTA had duly consulted the Medical Council of India (MCI) regarding the students’ demand for overseas test centers. However, the MCI has clarified that as the examination is conducted through Multiple Choice Questions in paper book format given to all candidates and, uniformity has to be maintained for all candidates, therefore, NEET (UG) examination should not be conducted in online mode for candidates abroad, it added.

The examination is scheduled to be held on September 13, 2020. The affidavit of NTA was filed on a plea seeking directions to hold NEET centers in Gulf countries. The plea, filed by parents of nearly 4,000 NEET (undergraduate) candidates, has sought to alternatively postpone the examination until the COVID-19 pandemic normalizes.

The parents of these candidates, who reside in Doha, Qatar, Oman, and UAE, have approached the apex court challenging the Kerala High Court June 30 order which had dismissed their plea.

In their appeal against the Kerala High Court order, the general secretary of Kerala Muslim Culture Centre in Qatar, Abdul Azeez said that the NTA had the capability and willingness to open exam centers in Gulf countries as they had been doing so for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Main).

The petition contended that the NTA has said it would open examination centers abroad only if the MCI approved the proposal. The MCI, in its communication dated May 21, said that the online test for NEET is not possible, the plea in apex court stated. “During these exceptional circumstances, the MCI and the Union government need to be flexible so as to facilitate these students to sit for NEET,” the plea said.

It said most students had registered with Indian embassies in Qatar, Oman, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia to travel to India on Vande Bharat mission flights and appear in the examination for admissions to MBBS and BDS courses in medical colleges, but they could not get seats on the flights as priority was given to other categories of passengers stuck abroad.