SC removes age cap of 25 yrs for taking NEET exam

New Delhi, Mar 31: The Supreme Court today removed the age cap of 25 years for candidates appearing for the NEET-2017 examination for MBBS/BDS courses and allowed filling up of forms through online portal of the CBSE till April 5.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar held that prima facie the age limit for the May 7 examination fixed by the CBSE, cannot be determined by way of issuing notice on the basis of instructions issued by the Medical Council of India (MCI).

The National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) is scheduled to be held on May 7 for which the last date for filling up forms was March 1.

“As we, prima facie, find such an age limit could not have been determined by way of a notice on the basis of the instructions issued by the Medical Council of India, it is appropriate to direct that all the desirous candidates will be allowed to fill up the forms on the online portal of the CBSE on or before April 5, 2017,” the bench said in its interim order.

It said that forms submitted by any candidate after April 5 will not be accepted as the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which is conducting the examination, will be facing problems.

The apex court directed that if the CBSE seek any logistic support from the agencies concerned for having additional centre in any area, then the district collector or the commissioner of the city will extend all the support including making different centres available so that the examination is held on the date fixed.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by one Rai Sabyasachi and other NEET aspirants who had challenged the notice issued by the CBSE on January 31, 2017 stipulating the maximum age limit of 25 years for the eligible candidates for the examination.

The court also restrained the high courts from interfering in the matters like choice and allocation of centres and said that if any contrary order has already been passed by any of the courts, then the CBSE shall be bound by the order of apex court only.

Directing the CBSE that its online portal shall remain open from this evening, the bench said that all required assistance shall be extended to Sanyam Bhardwaj, the joint secretary of the board responsible for conducting the test. During the hearing, senior advocates Amarendra Sharan and Indu Malhotra, appearing for candidates, contended that without any regulations or rules framed by the MCI, the said notice determining the age limit should not have been issued by the CBSE.

“There are several students who after doing their graduation are also desirous of giving NEET to become doctors and if the age cap of 25 years is fixed then majority of them will not be able to appear in the examination,” Sharan said.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the MCI, said fixing of the age limit is a matter of debate and if more candidates are allowed to take up the examination at this stage then it would create difficulties.

He said that the apex court allowed the candidates who have filed the petition to fill up their form by its earlier orders but if the age cap is removed then it would create additional problems for the board and the MCI.

The counsel appearing for CBSE said that last date of accepting the entrance test form was on March 1 for the examination to be held on May 7 and it will be difficult to do the last minute arrangements.

On March 20, the apex court while fixing the matter for final hearing had allowed the candidates who were before the court to fill up their forms and directed the CBSE to accept their forms.

It had, however, made it clear that filling up of the forms did not mean creation of any right in favour of the students.

On February 27, the apex court had asked the MCI to satisfy it as how and on what parameters the age limit was fixed when there were no such rules or regulations.

It had clarified that in case the candidates who have filed the petition succeed in their case, then the time for filling up the forms will be extended.

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