SC notice to Centre, MCI on plea challenging NEET’s upper age limit

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New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre and the Medical Council of India (MCI) on a plea by a batch of students challenging 2018 MCI regulation prescribing the upper age limit of 25 years for those appearing in National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to undergraduate medical courses – MBBS and BDS.

While for the students belonging to general category. the age limit for appearing in NEET is 25 years, for SC/ST, OBC and physically handicapped it is 30 years.

Seeking response on the petition challenging the Delhi High Court order dismissing the challenge to the regulation prescribing an upper-age limit, the vacation bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Ashok Bhushan directed the listing of matter of July 10 for further hearing.

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The students have challenged the Delhi High Court’s May 11 judgment upholding the regulation prescribing the upper-age limit.

Assailing the High court judgment, the petitioners have contended that MCI while framing the regulations did not carry out any study to show that permitting persons above certain age to study medical courses would, in any way, lower the standards of medical education.

They also argued that thee MCI has not given the reasons for fixing the upper age limit and same were based on “hearsay”, not on any factual study of the situation which is required from an expert body such as MCI.

“Merely by virtue of being an expert body would not lend credence to unsubstantiated facts, especially when the said facts are being made basis for exclusion of category of students from an entire profession” that impinges on their fundamental rights,” says the petition.

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Finding faults with the High Court judgment, the petitioner have contended that it (High Court) has “erred in upholding a delegated legislation taking away fundamental rights of the Petitioners under Articles 14, 19(1) and 21 (of the Constitution)”.

The petition has pointed out that High Court ignored the fact that the Centre and the MCI had themselves, in a policy decision, dropped the requirement of upper-age limit from NEET-UG 2017 as there was need for more doctors and fixing an upper age limit would be restrictive in nature.

However, without any change in circumstances – on the need for more doctors – the Centre and the MCI without assigning any reasons abruptly changed the policy for the year 2018, they added, saying the abrupt u-turn without any rationale should have been grounds for quashing it.

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–IANS

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