SC Directs NTA to Provide Specific Relaxations for Disabled NEET Candidates, Remedy to Candidate who was denied extra Hour

Published On 2021-11-23 09:56 GMT   |   Update On 2021-11-23 09:56 GMT

New Delhi: While considering the plea by a disabled NEET aspirant, who was denied an extra hour to write her paper, the Supreme Court has directed the National Testing Agency (NTA) to communicate a decision regarding what relief can be given to the candidate.

Apart from this, the bench headed by Justice D. Y. Chandrachud further instructed NTA to provide specific relaxations for persons with disabilities.

"The NTA must remember that all authority under the law is subject to responsibility and above all to a sense of accountability. It is governed by the rule of law and the necessity of observing fairness. As an examining body, the NTA was bound to scrupulously enforce the guidelines for the examination which provide for specific relaxations for persons with disability", the top was quoted saying by Live Law.

Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that the NEET aspirant had approached the top court alleging that her paper was snatched away by the invigilator and she was denied an extra hour which the candidates with disabilities are entitled to. Filing the petition before the Supreme Court, the student sought a re-examination or compensation in any other way- by way of grace marks or by elimination of negative marking.

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Also Read:Disabled NEET Candidate Allegedly Denied Extra Hour to Complete Exam: SC to Pass Order Tomorrow

As per the latest media report by Live Law, earlier during the hearing of the case on Thursday, the top court had orally told NTA that it should be must for the brochure issued by the agency to carry a separate segment on candidates with disabilities and also mention the specific benefits available for them. Further the court had also directed that the invigilators should be properly trained so that they can make sure that the benefits available for the disabled candidates are implemented properly.

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At that outset, the bench had also directed NTA to come up with specific guidelines so that the situation is never repeated later.

"This child may now lose a year. She could have made it otherwise. It is very heart-breaking. I myself had written the Vikash Kumar judgment (the Supreme Court held that facility of scribe can be provided for persons with disabilities other than those having benchmark disabilities)...the brochure for NEET must have a segment on candidates with disabilities, enumerating the specific benefits available for visually-challenged, hearing-impaired candidates or candidates with dysgraphia. There should be disclosure in advance. Secondly, there should be proper training for invigilators. It is very crucial that they are aware. You as the NTA have bona-fides, but very often, the invigilators on the ground are not aware. Like in this case, her paper was snatched. It is heart-rending...instructions must be given down the line so that these benefits are implemented," the bench had noted.

"Also, there has to be a policy for where the candidate is not at fault. How do you set it right where a candidate is losing out at the last minute when they did not even do anything? Medical education today is so competitive," the bench had also opined last week.

Bar and Bench adds that even though the bench also comprising of Justice Vikram Nath denied the plea of the candidate for a re-exam, it also noted,

"The exam body was bound to follow the rules which allow for relaxation for persons with disability. Lack of remedy will cause irreparable injury. Authority cannot be allowed to get away."

Thus, giving NTA two weeks time to communicate its decision regarding what relief can be given to the candidate, who is suffering from Dysgraphia, a neurological disorder that impairs writing, the bench further observed, "Having regard to Vikash Kumar judgment, facilities to persons with disabilities will not be limited in comparison to benchmark disability. Second respondent was unaware of facilities for the petitioner. Thus they should be sensitized."

Apart from directing NTA to take a decision regarding the possible remedy for the candidate, the bench also issued the following guidelines, as reported by Live Law-

1. The plea seeking re-exam for NEET has been denied.

2. NTA has been directed to consider what should be done to rectify the injustice done to the candidate, who without any fault of her own was denied the extra time that she was entitled to, within one week.

3. NTA has been instructed to ensure that in future, provisions which are made for NEET keeping in mind the rights and entitlements under PWD Act should be clarified by removing the ambiguity like the present case.

4. Referring to the judgment of Vikash Kumar, the bench opined that the statutory provisions contained in the RPWD act, the rights and entitlements available to the PWD cannot be limited by reading in 'persons with benchmark disabilities'.

5. However, the bench clarified that in order to avail reservation under section 32 of the 2016 Act, 'benchmark disability' continues to apply as the standard.

6. Taking note of the fact that the examination centre, in this case, was ignorant of the facilities that the petitioner was entitled to, the bench directed that the exam centers and persons working for NTA should be sensitised and trained towards the reasonable accommodation which the PWD are entitled to.

Also Read: NEET PG 2021 Counselling: Supreme Court hearing on OBC, EWS Quota Today

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