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Medical Council of India proceeded on Prejudice: Delhi HC on NIOS Plea


Medical Council of India proceeded on Prejudice: Delhi HC on NIOS Plea

New Delhi: Granting major relief of open school candidates who had been denied the opportunity to appear  in medical entrances by the latest Medical Council of India (MCI) notification, the Delhi High Court, recently upheld that  students from open school can also take the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET). The court however, dismissed the challenge to the age limit for NEET, uploading the CBSE age bar of 25 years.

It is reported that petitions were filed by a number of aspirants challenging the MCI ban on NIOS students from appearing in NEET, hence losing out a chance of a career as a medical professional. Petitions were also filed by aspirants who had challenged the age bar criteria in application to NEET, which limited the opportunity to only those below the age of 25.

Striking down the Proviso to clause 4(2)(a) of the Regulations disqualifying recognized open school Board candidates and declared it unconstitutional. In the process, the court also made strong observations against the Council for making such a decision noting that such kind of restrictions envisaged would not only be unreasonable, but would perpetuate inequality and hamper promotion of egalitarian social order and justice.

 They (Medical council of India) have proceeded on prejudice and assumption or a priori ex hypothesis predicated on the belief the students/candidates who do not attend regular schools, because of financial hardship and social reasons, are inferior and less deserving and turn downs.Such presumptions must beresoundingly rejected as contrary to the constitutional ethos and would clearly violate both Article 14 and right to opportunity to acquire professional degree….

…Everyone has a right to choose employment and take up a trade or profession of one‘s liking. This right is subject to reasonable regulation in the interest of general public under first part of clause (6) of Article 19 and the State can under the second part of clause (6) to Article 19 prescribe professional or technical qualification for pracising any profession. We are concerned with the first part, as we are concerned with right to opportunity and not directly with the right to practise a profession. Regulation to be reasonable must provide level playing field and should not restrain those who have struggled and fought social prejudice and financial hardship to complete 10+2 schooling, from right and opportunity to acquire a professional degree. After all, all students including those from open schools Boards are treated at par and equivalent to candidates with regular schooling. Once equivalence is accepted and affirmed, they should be given opportunity to compete with others. Only on meeting the eligibility marks and excellence on merits, they become eligible for selection. Selection and actual admission being based on merit, i.e. the marks obtained, no privilege or advantage is bestowed and given to a student from open school Boards. NEET is a centralized and a single window examination,conducted in a transparent manner. This is a true and sure test of competence, caliber and aptitude.

Professional degree would be awarded to students who meet the exacting standards and qualify the MBBS course. Impugned prohibition in the form of disqualification of students/candidates of open school Board would not meet the constitutional standard of reasonableness and test of interest of general public. The restriction in the nature of prohibiting students belonging to open school Board is therefore disproportionate and unreasonable to the purported ―evil‖ sought to be remedied, i.e. to filter out students who are not interested and do not have the calibre and intellect to undergo and clear the MBBS course.

 The court also observed

NEET is a centralized and a single window examination, conducted in a transparent manner. This is a true and sure test of competence, caliber and aptitude. Professional degree would be awarded to students who meet the exacting standards and qualify the MBBS course. Impugned prohibition in the form of disqualification of students/candidates of open school Board would not meet the constitutional standard of reasonableness and test of interest of general public. The restriction in the nature of prohibiting students belonging to open school Board is therefore disproportionate and unreasonable to the purported ―evil‖ sought to be remedied, i.e. to filter out students who are not interested and do not have the calibre and intellect to undergo and clear the MBBS course.

With the above observations, the court ruled in the favour of Open School Students. The bench, however, was also listening to the plea on age limit in NEET found no reason to interfere with the said notification, noting

In the present context and background in India, given the limited number of seats and large number of aspirants, it is difficult to hold that the upper age limit is not a reasonable restriction, which has been imposed in the interest of general public. Hopefully, in near future, this situation would change, and age and ―subject‖ constraint and restriction would not be required and necessary.

 

 



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