Short of a few days for eligible age need not be an obstacle for intelligent student to appear for exams like NEET, says Madras High Court

A minor girl from Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district moved the High Court challenging the order of the National Testing Agency (NTA) that refused to allow her to write the NEET exam 
Madras High Court (File photo | EPS)
Madras High Court (File photo | EPS)

The Madras High Court on Tuesday held that shortage of a few days for the prescribed age qualification need not be an obstacle for an intelligent student seeking admission or writing exams like the NEET.

Citing an order of a division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, headed by Justice V Ramasubramanian in 2019 in a similar case, the present bench of Justices Pushpa Sathyanarayana and Krishnan Ramasamy made the observation, today.

It, however, refused to allow a minor girl to write the NEET. The bench pointed out that the 2019 order said that "we would like to record our concern that the Medical Council of India (MCI) should take a call on such cases, as cases of persons whose age falls short by a few days, cannot really be considered as under-aged. The concept of considering a person as under-aged may apply to persons who could not have completed LC at a particular time or who could not have completed Intermediate at a particular time and it cannot be applied to cases where the candidates have broadly entered into the required age, but had not completed the same due to the shortage of few days."

Earlier, minor girl Shree Harini of Thanjavur district moved the High Court challenging the order dated August 9 this year of the National Testing Agency (NTA), refusing to allow her to write the NEET exam, scheduled for Sunday September 12. A single judge disposed of the petition with a direction to the petitioner to appear before the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore and subject herself to IQ analysis and if she is eligible to appear in the NEET UG 2021 examination, she may be permitted to sit in the examination.

Aggrieved over the same, the instant appeal was filed by the NTA. Allowing the same and reversing the orders of the single judge, the present bench noted that the girl was given double promotion from 7th standard to Class 9 standard and she was allowed to appear for 10th board examination even before completing 14 years of age and there was no objection all along by the CBSE for the first respondent and even to appear for 12th board examination while she was below the age of 16.

"Therefore, when the girl had been permitted by the CBSE to complete her 12th board examination even before the age 16, we feel that there may be no justification on the part of the NTA to reject her request for age relaxation," the bench said. However, since the rule specifically provided a bar, this court cannot strike it down. Besides, allowing the writ petitioner to sit for the NEET would open the Pandora's box and the courts of this country will be flooded with such similar claims.

Moreover, except contending that the writ petitioner has high IQ level and she performed in an intellectually superior range in all the IQ tests, her senior counsel did not raise any other valid ground to take a different view in the matter, the bench said.

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