Admission to Candidate Failing in Class 12 Chemistry Theory: Court Directs College, NEET Counselling Board to Pay Rs 10 Lakh
Jaipur: Holding both the NEET Counseling Board and the Dental College guilty of serious lapses for providing admission to a candidate who had failed in Chemistry Theory paper in the 10+2 exam, the Rajasthan High Court has recently directed both the authorities to pay Rs 10,00,000 to the candidate for his loss of one year and the financial expenses incurred by him.
However, the single-judge bench of Justice Ashok Kumar Gaur denied giving any relief to the petitioner student and give direction to the University for enrolling the student as it noted that "Court, while considering eligibility of the petitioner, finds that the petitioner cannot be granted relief to continue with the course and as such, his prayer to that extent is rejected."
The case concerned the petitioner who after passing the Senior Secondary Examination (10+2) from Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE) in 2017, participated in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and after going through the counseling process, conducted by NEET Counseling Board, got admitted to the concerned Dental College in BDS course.
However, just before the first year BDS examination, the student had applied for the enrolment in the University and in response the University informed him that he cannot be allowed since he had failed in Chemistry in Senior Secondary Examination.
It was contended by the petitioner student that he was not at fault as he had submitted all the required documents and his 10+2 result showed "pass" and even in Chemistry, the result only mentioned, "Fail in Theory". Minimum passing marks was 33 and he obtained 10 marks in theory and 29 marks in practical, which is more than 33%, contended the petitioner.
Further, the counsel for the petitioner student contended that that the information booklet nowhere mentioned that the candidate is required to have minimum marks in theory as well as in practical and the only requirement was to have 40% aggregate marks in all the subjects and the candidate should have passed individually in all the subjects.
Thus, denying enrolment of the candidate after he had pursued the course for more than one year is not legally justified and sustainable, as there was no fault on the part of the petitioner student to mislead the authorities on his eligibility, submitted the counsel.
On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the University contended that as per Clause 40.1 of CBSE, it has been clearly mentioned that in order to be declared as having passed the examination, a candidate needs to obtain a grade higher 'E' i.e. at least 33% marks in all the five subjects of external examination in the main or at the compartmental examinations. In case, the subject involves practical work, a candidate must obtain 33% marks in theory and 33% marks in practical separately, in addition to 33% marks in aggregate, in order to qualify in that subject.
Alleging that only on the basis of declaration of overall result of the petitioner as "pass", the petitioner cannot be treated to be eligible for pursuing BDS course, the counsel for the University also pleaded before the High Court that eligibility of the petitioner student remained unchecked at the level of the Authority of NEET Examination and during counseling as well no effort was made to verify the eligibility.
Meanwhile, the counsel for CBSE argued that the mark sheet of the petitioner student showed that the petitioner had appeared in six papers, as he had taken one additional subject apart from five subjects. He further argued that overall result of the petitioner has been declared as pass, on the basis of five subjects, which a candidate is required to pass and thus, being declared pass in the final mark sheet. He also referred to Clause 43 of Bye-Laws at this outset.
He further contended that if the petitioner was to pursue BDS course, he was required to pass each subject of Physics, Biology, and Chemistry and since the student was shown as fail in Chemistry theory, his very participation in the process of examination was on wrong presumption/assumption of his eligibility. He also denied any error on the part of CBSE or any human error while issuing mark sheet as alleged by the University.
NEET Counseling Board, meanwhile, while referring to the issue of document verification, contended that it was the responsibility of the allotted/admitting college to check the original documents and the documents pertaining to the eligibility of the candidate, inclusive of the mark sheet of 12th standard and then report to the Counselling Board about the details of admission of the candidate via online reporting module.
The onus of verifying the eligibility criteria, including 12th standard marks, was of the admitting college before finalizing admission and reporting to the counselling Board, contended the counsel for NEET Counselling Board.
He further contended that the petitioner student, who belonged to ST category was required to read the information booklet and instructions for filling online application form very carefully including the fact that if any lapse was detected while filling up the online applications during scrutiny, the candidature of a candidate could be rejected even at a later stage.
However, the counsel representing the Dental college argued that the petitioner student was allotted seat after he reported to the NEET Counselling Board and submitted the original documents and since the NEET Counselling Board had sent the petitioner after allotting the college, the College was merely honouring the decision of the Board and thus the college had not committed any illegality in granting admission to the petitioner student.
After listening to the contentions of all the parties, the High court bench examined the Information Booklet of NEET-UG Counselling Board and observed that the petitioner student hadn't fulfilled the mandatory criteria of passing Physics, Chemistry and Biology/Biochemistry individually.
At this outset, the Court noted,
"This Court finds that a candidate, who appears in any of the examinations, has to ensure that he fulfills the minimum educational qualification and any other conditions, which are required before entering into fray for writing the examination. The specific requirement of educational qualification cannot be diluted by this Court, as the requirement of possessing and passing the subjects, is a pre-condition for making a candidate eligible."
"The petitioner was well-aware that he has not passed the subject of Chemistry and even then he participated in the examination process and now claims right that the Authorities were absolutely within their domain to admit the petitioner, the same plea cannot be accepted by this Court," further read the judgment.
"This Court, while considering eligibility of the petitioner, finds that the petitioner cannot be granted relief to continue with the course and as such, his prayer to that extent is rejected," noted the Court.
However, the Court also noted that all the concerned authorities had the responsibility to ensure that the Candidate possessed the requisite educational qualification before granting admission to the student.
While considering the lapses on the part of the concerned authorities, the Court noted that the College came to know about the lack of eligibility on the part of the petitioner only when examination forms were to be filled and the candidate had applied for enrolment. However, the Court opined that this couldn't justify the lapses committed by the college and the same cannot be condoned by the Court.
Noting that students who are appearing in the Pre-medical qualifying test are of young age and lack maturity, the Court noted that for this reason, the "Authorities, who issues these instructions, are required to be very specific about details, which the candidates are required to follow while undergoing the entire process of examination and undertake the process of admissions later on," as the bench took note of the fact that the Information Booklet had overlapping provisions at some places.
In fact, finding the NEET Counseling Board guilty as well, the Court noted,
"This Court finds that callous approach of the respondent No.3 – NEET Counselling Board to adjudge the eligibility of candidates has resulted into such a situation, where the petitioner was admitted in a course for one year and later on, he has been told that he was not eligible. The Authorities ought to have been vigilant at the first instance to check the eligibility of all the candidates, including the petitioner and it is the duty of NEET Counselling Board to see that candidates, who appeared before them, must possess the requisite eligibility and their original documents are also checked with due diligence & attention."
Thus, holding both the College and the NEET Counseling Board guilty of giving admission to the candidate, the Court opined that since the petitioner cannot be granted admission, at least, he is required to be compensated by both the respondents.
Taking note of the fact that the parents of the petitioner had to pay the fees and the loss of one year of time on the part of the petitioner student, the Court referred to several Apex court judgments in Krina Ajay Shah & Ors. Vs. The Secretary, Association of Management of Unaided Private Medical & Dental Colleges & Ors., where the candidates had been awarded compensation for not getting admission and for losing precious time.
Thus the bench directed the NEET Counseling Board and the Dental College to pay ten lakh rupees to the petitioner student within a period of five weeks as it disposed of the petition.
To read the court order, click on the link below.