The Supreme Court on Monday criticised the central government and the regulatory body for medical education for making last-minute changes to the syllabus of the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test Super Specialty exam, reported Bar and Bench.

The entrance exam meant for postgraduate students to take up super specialty medical courses (meant for studying specific diseases) is scheduled to be held on November 13 and November 14. The exam dates were notified on July 23, but a change in the syllabus of the test was announced on August 31.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna was hearing a plea filed by 41 post-graduate doctors challenging the last-minute change to the syllabus. The plea argued that the decision was taken to favour candidates learning general medicine (the study of a broad spectrum of illnesses).

In Monday’s hearing, the court asked the National Board of Examinations, which functions under the Ministry of Health and family Welfare, and the National Medical Commission, why the syllabus could not be changed next year. The bench pointed out that the students have been preparing for the exam for months.

“We will hear you but we are dissatisfied with the authorities,” Chandrachud said. “Just because you have power, you are wielding power like this. Please speak to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to look at this. Don’t treat these young doctors as football in this game of power.”

In 2018, the exam’s pattern comprised of 60% questions from super-speciality fields and 40% questions from general medicine, reported NDTV. However, the syllabus was changed this time to contain all questions from the general medicine field.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, representing the petitioners, had argued in earlier hearings that the change in the pattern of syllabus left many candidates at a great disadvantage, according to Live Law. He had argued that the authorities should not have brought these changes after the exam notification was issued.

During Monday’s hearing, the court asked the authorities to be open to criticism if they cannot come up with a solution for the matter.

“You cannot treat young doctors with insensitivity,” the court said. “You cannot deal with their lives like this.”

The court granted time to the government and the regulatory body to file their replies and listed the case for hearing on October 4.