PwD Student Wrongfully Denied Compensatory Time in NEET-UG 2021, NTA to Take Corrective Steps: SC
The Supreme Court of India in Avni Prakash vs National Testing Agency (NTA) – Civil Appeal No. 7000 of 2021 (Arising Out of SLP (C) No.18591 of 2021- held that the appellant was wrongfully deprived of her compensatory time during the NEET 2021 d examination despite her entitlement as Person with Disabilities (PwD) and directed the respondent to take necessary steps to rectify the same.
The bench consisting of Justice Dr. Chandrachud and Justice Vikram Nath held:
The relief sought by the appellant for holding a re-examination for the NEET (UG) is denied;
The appellant was wrongfully deprived of compensatory time of one hour while appearing for the NEET without any fault of her own, despite her entitlements as a PwD and a PwBD. Accordingly, the first respondent is directed to consider what steps could be taken to rectify the injustice within a period of one week. Further, it shall take necessary consequential measures under intimation to the DGHS;
The appellant suffers from Dysgraphia, a specified disability listed in Entry 2(a) of the Schedule to the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016. She had appeared for NEET 2021 where she had been given the status of Person with Disability (PwD) and was entitled to an additional one hour of relaxation over and above the 3 hours prescribed for regular candidates. The respondent while agreeing earlier to provide the facilities, later forcibly collected her answer sheet depriving her from the relaxation provided.
This appeal arose from a judgment of a Division Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay dated 29th October 2021, where the court passed an ad-interim order which stated that the respondent will have to consider the certification of disability produced from a prescribed agency within one week of the order and the respondent shall have to accommodate and make certain adjustments to counter the barriers posed by the disabled person. After the passing of interim order by the Bombay High Court the appellant had approached the Directorate of Medical Education and Research for more clarification about the relaxation.
The present case of the appellant arose from the Special Leave Petition (SLP) under Article 136 of the Constitution, wherein the Supreme Court called for a fresh examination of the case and stayed the interim order by dismissing the petition of the appellant in the lower court. The court further sent notice to the NTA and dismissed the notice for the other two respondents (add names here) finding that the case was against the NTA.
Following this, the court went on to study “Whether the appellant was entitled to an hour’s worth of compensatory time owing to her PwD status under the NEET Bulletin 2021 and the Guidelines for Written Examination issued by the Ministry of Social Empowerment and Justice on 29 August 2018?” Under Para 5.3 of the NEET Bulletin 2021, PwD candidates are required to have themselves examined at any Government Medical College/District Hospital/Government Hospital and produce a Disability Certificate issued by the Disability Assessment Board in adherence to the guidelines prescribed under the Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997 as amended up to 14.05.2019.
Subsequently, the respondent was found to have failed in meeting its responsibility.
While the court stated that it was impossible to conduct a fresh examination as sought by the appellant, it directed the respondent to take necessary corrective steps.
The court added:
Individual injustices originating in a wrongful denial of rights and entitlements prescribed under the law cannot be sent into oblivion on the ground that these are a necessary consequence of a competitive examination.
Accordingly, the court, upholding the rights of the PwD student and seeking corrective measures from the respondent, disposed of the petition.
Rasmita Behera | Research Intern | EduLegaL