HC sets aside order permitting 16-year-old girl to write NEET

‘A certain level of maturity is required to join medical courses’

A Division Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday set aside an order passed by a single judge of the court permitting a 16-year-old girl to appear for National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) scheduled to be held on Sunday though the minimum age for writing the test, meant to gain admission in medical colleges, is 17 years.

Justices Pushpa Sathyanarayana and Krishnan Ramasamy held that courts could not interfere in criteria prescribed by the National Medical Commission (NMC) and National Testing Agency (NTA) and order relaxations. They agreed with senior counsel G. Rajagopalan, representing NTA, that a certain level of maturity was required to join medical courses.

However, penning a few additional paragraphs to the main verdict authored by Justice Sathyanarayana, Justice Ramasamy expressed serious concern over the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) having allowed the girl to write Plus Two examination but the NTA and NMC refusing to permit her to appear for NEET-2021.

The judge wrote that allowing a student to clear Plus Two examinations in a particular year but denying her the opportunity to write NEET scheduled immediately thereafter would directly hit the doctrine of legitimate expectation and also amount to denial of the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution.

He pointed out that the student, SP. Shree Harini, of Kumbakonam was born on May 4, 2005. She was given double promotion by letting her join Class IX directly, without studying Class VIII, after completing her Class VII. Though CBSE regulations require a candidate to have completed 14 years of age to write Class X, no objection was raised for her to writing the Class X and XII exams.

“Therefore, when she has been permitted by CBSE to complete her 12th board examination even before the age 16, I feel that there may be no justification on the part of the 3rd respondent (NMC) to reject her request for age relaxation… Having regard to the above, I am of the view that the NMC has to look at the concern of such students and come up with some solution,” the judge said.

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