The Madras High Court on Tuesday said that when it comes to the age limit at entrance exams like National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), a shortage of a few days from the prescribed age qualification need not be an obstacle for students seeking admission to such courses.
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.
However, the bench refused to allow a minor girl to write the NEET. “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 bench said.
The minor girl, Shree Harini from Thanjavur district moved to the high court challenging an order dated August 9 by the National Testing Agency (NTA), refusing to allow her to write NEET, which is scheduled for September 12.
Thereafter, a single judge disposed of the petition asking her to appear before the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore and subject herself to IQ analysis, following which it would be determined if she is eligible to appear for NEET. Aggrieved over the same, the instant appeal was filed by the NTA.
Reversing the orders of the single judge, the present bench noted that the minor girl was given a double promotion from class 7 to 9 and was allowed to appear for class 10 even before completing 14 years of age from a CBSE -affiliated school. She was also allowed to appear for class 12 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 of 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, the court cannot strike it down. Besides, allowing the writ petitioner to sit for the NEET would open Pandora’s box and the courts of this country will be flooded with such similar claims. Further, the senior counsel did not raise any other valid ground except that the writ petitioner has a high IQ level and she performed in an intellectually superior range in all the IQ tests, the bench added.
(with inputs from PTI)