HC reminded of Munnabhai MBBS! No relief to doctor denied permission to appear in NEET SS exam without registration certificate
Aurangabad: Referring to the instances of malpractices in examinations, the Bombay High Court recently denied relief to a doctor who was not allowed to appear for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test Super Speciality (NEET-SS) 2023 examination without the required documents.
The petitioner doctor, who was denied entry in the absence of the Medical Registration Certificate, filed the plea and sought directions from the National Board of Examinations (NBE) to conduct his examination. He also urged the Court to restrain NBE from publishing the NEET-SS examination results till the final disposal of the case.
However, the HC bench comprising Justices R V Ghuge and Y G Khobragade dismissed the plea and noted, "Had the Petitioner carried the Medical Registration certificate, there was no embargo for him to enter the examination hall. Therefore, laches cannot attributed to the Respondent authorities and it could only be said that the Petitioner should blame himself for having failed in strictly following the standing instructions for the students. No doubt, he may not have done this deliberately, since he does not derive any advantage. Failure to carry the Medical Registration certificate, was never an advantage to him. Nevertheless, since the refusal of the authorities in permitting the Petitioner to enter the examination hall without the certificate and declining entry to him beyond the security check point while carrying the mobile instrument containing the soft copy of the certificate, cannot be faulted, we do not notice any such attributes, which would taint the conduct of the authorities. Directing the authorities to hold a fresh examination only for the Petitioner in the above fact situation, in our view, would not be reasonable and appropriate."
The concerned petitioner doctor submitted that he obtained M.D. (Medicine) degree from the Grant Medical College, Mumbai and consequently commenced his medical practice in Latur. He applied for D.M. (Doctor of Medicine) entrance exam in 2022 and succeeded in the entrance test for a super speciality post for the year 2022. However, since he was not comfortable joining the college that was allotted to him, he decided to re-appear for the same exam in 2023.
Accordingly, he applied online to National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences for the D.M. entrance exam. The documents that he uploaded on the website consisted of a captured photo, an uploaded photo, his digital signature, left-thumb impression, proof of NMC/SMC/Medical Council Registration Certificate etc. Thereafter, he was issued with the admit card for the exam scheduled on 29.09.2023.
As per the plea, when the petitioner reported for the examination at the exam center, it was noticed that he was not carrying the permanent registration certificate, issued by the Medical Council. The doctor requested the authorities to allow him to enter the examination hall only on the strength of the admit card.
Since the authorities insisted on the registration certificate, allegedly, the petitioner informed them that he could show the soft copy of his Medical Council registration certificate as he carried a photograph of the same on his mobile phone. Since such devices were not permitted to be carried to the hall, he went back to the parking lot and collected the cell phone, and came back to the exam hall. However, he was late and as his cellular phone device was not permitted to be brought into the exam center, the authorities insisted that he should produce the certificate of registration with the Medical Council. For this reason, he was disallowed from appearing for the examination.
The petitioner's counsel argued that he had successfully uploaded the material documents required for the acceptance of the examination form, and the relevant documents including the proof of his registration with a medical council were considered while issuing the admit card.
It was further argued that once a candidate has an admit card, the authorities should not insist on producing any other document. The counsel argued that it was the lapse on the part of the examination authorities in not allowing the petitioner to appear for the exam and the concerned authorities should be directed to conduct a special examination for him and the results should not be announced until such exam is conducted and the answer sheets are scrutinized by the concerned examiner.
On the other hand, the counsel for NBE informed the Court that the results for NEET SS 2023 have already been declared. It was further argued that when the petitioner himself forgot to carry the document, he cannot blame the authorities for having been disallowed him from appearing for the exam.
While considering the matter, the HC bench referred to the instances of malpractices and noted,
"It does not require any debate that as a result of technological advancement and development, there are instances when students have resorted to various methods/tactics of manufacturing admit cards, identity cards, hacking websites and carrying air-pods or electronic earbuds in the examination hall, in order to resort to malpractices in the examinations. We are reminded of the movie 'Munnabhai MBBS', and it would not be too much to say that there are several candidates who resort to such practices. There are instances when the results of the NEET-UG and PG exams are hacked by hackers, results are manufactured and higher scores in the examination results are published on such fictitious websites."
The Court noted that NBE has been consistently informing the candidates as to what documents they should be carrying along with them to the examination hall and which are the electronic instruments and gadgets that are to be left behind and are not to be carried to the hall.
Further, the bench referred to NEET-SS 2023 information bulletin and observed that Clause 6.12 of the bulletin indicated the documents which a candidate 'MUST' carry, indicating the mandate behind the requirement for producing the physical documents before entering the examinaton centre. Clause 6.12.2 mandates that a photocopy of permanent SMC/MCI/NMC registration will be tendered by the candidate, which will be retained by the test centre. Besides such document, one of the Government issued photo IDs, like PAR card/ driving license/ voter ID/Passport/ Aadhar card with photograph, should be carried by the candidate.
The bench also referred to Clause 6.14, and Clause 6.15 of the bulletin. The court pointed out that Clause 6.16 mentioned that list of items that are not allowed beyond the security check-point under any circumstances and Clause 6.17 indicated the documents that are to be carried in physical form.
Referring to these rules, the bench observed,
"We quite foresee the purpose and object behind the mechanism designed by the examination authorities to ensure that the examination is conducted in a fair manner. They intend to ensure that a proxy candidate or a candidate resorting to unfair means does not participate in the examination. The list of documents that are required to be carried by the candidates in physical form, is apparently with the intention that the examination authorities are not required to rely upon a solitary document as a test of the identity of the student, since one or two documents can be manufactured/doctored and that the entire list of the documents which the authorities scrutinize while permitting the entry of a candidate, are not forged."
Therefore, the Court dismissed the plea and observed that "...we do not find that ulterior/oblique motives could be attributed to Respondent No.2 in denying entry to the Petitioner."
To view the order, click on the link below:
M.A in English
Barsha completed her Master's in English from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.