Delhi HC Rejects Petition to Alter MCI Regulations Reducing Minimum Age Eligibility from 17-Years to 15-Years for NEET-2021
Delhi High Court in Master Akash Yadav Minor Vs Union of India -W.P.(C) 8520/2021- upheld the Medical Council of India (MCI) Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997 while rejecting the petitioner’s prayer to alter the minimum age to appear for NEET 2021 from 17 years to 15 years.
the bench comprising of Justice D.N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh held
“We are afraid that this contention of the Petitioner cannot be accepted by this Court. It is a settled law that prescribing age limits for appearance in entrance examinations is the domain of the concerned authorities, with their expertise in the field. In a writ jurisdiction, it is not open to this Court to decide as to which age would be the most appropriate minimum age for appearing in the entrance examinations. Neither does this fall within the scope of judicial review in a writ jurisdiction nor does the Court have the necessary expertise to alter the age limits to suit a particular examination”
Regulation 4 of Graduate Medical Education,1997 lays down that-
“Admission to the Medical Course-Eligibility Criteria: No candidate shall be allowed to be admitted to the Medical Curriculum proper of first Bachelor or Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery course until he /she has qualified the National Eligibility Entrance Test, and he/she shall not be allowed to appear for the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test until:
(1) He/she shall complete the age of 17 years on or before 31st December of the year of admission to the MBBS Course.”
The petitioner sought to amend Rule 4(1) of the Regulation on Graduate Medical Education,1997 which stipulated the minimum age to appear for NEET to be 17 years. The petitioner, born in 2006 was underage by 12 months and 26 days, and was thus held to be ineligible for the examination. He argued that the enactment being almost 2 decades old had outlived its utility, and that the regulation deserved to be struck down, as a large majority of students nowadays are ready to go to universities and colleges by 15 years of age.
The Court scrutinizing the arguments made by the petitioner prescribing the minimum age would require a better understanding of the nature of the examination and the requirements of the academic courses for which the examination is conducted. The court asserted that authorities conducting the examination are better positioned to make decisions of such nature and said:
Prescribing the minimum age limit requires an expert opinion with a deeper insight into the particular examination and the requirements of the academic courses for which the examination is conducted. These are policy decisions and the Petitioner has been unable to point out any arbitrariness or mala fides in the prescription of minimum age of 17 years for NEET-2021. It ought to be kept in mind that the primary role of the Court is to interpret the Rules and Regulations and no interference is called for when the Regulations are unambiguous and the Petitioner has been unable to point out a single reason that appeal to this Court for reduction of the age limit.
The court also observed that the petitioner had failed to point out any arbitrariness or obscurity in the allocation of minimum age as 17 years for NEET-2021.
Responding to the petitioner’s contention and citing of the case of Minor SP. Shree Harini vs. Union of India & Ors., W.P. (C) No. 3367/2021, by his counsel where the division bench of Madras High Court, allowed the petitioner who is also a minor to appear in the NEET 2021 examinations. However, the Court contended that it does not agree to the view taken by the division bench of the Madras High Court.
The Bench remarked:
“In view of the aforesaid, we do not find merit in the contentions of the Petitioner. Insofar as the reliance on the judgment of the Madras High Court in Minor SP. Shree Harini (Supra) is concerned, we are informed that the same is pending consideration before the Division Bench of the Madras High Court. Even otherwise, this Court does not agree with the view taken by the Learned Single Judge of the Madras High Court and the directions issued therein, which in any case are not binding on this Court. There is no merit in the writ petition and the same only deserves to be dismissed.”
Accordingly, the Court dismissed the petition while emphasising that the primary role of the court is to interpret the rules and regulations, and not to alter them without a proper cause.
Nidhi Nair | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL