The Medical Council of India’s (MCI) decision to keep an upper age limit for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical colleges has come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.
A bench of justices AK Goel and Ashok Bhushan, while issuing notice on a petition challenging the policy, agreed to examine the validity of an amendment to the MCI Regulations on Graduate Medical Education of 1997. The amendment that was notified on January 22, stipulated an upper age limit of 25 years for general category candidates and of 30 years for those belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (OBC) as well as those is the physically handicapped categories.
The Delhi High Court had on May 11 upheld the regulation. It had held that a 17- or 18-year-old candidate will find it difficult to compete with older and more experienced candidates.
Senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, arguing for the petitioners, told the court the regulation is artificial and serves no real objective. “The Regulation is bad as per the (MCI Oversight) Committee as well as the central government that has recommended deletion of the upper age limit as the country needs more doctors,” the lawyer said.
But the bench noted that the regulations are in exercise of legislative power to which Sharan replied: “When candidates secure higher marks, it increases competition, resulting in better doctors.”
The court, however, declined interim relief as the results of NEET 2018 were being declared on Monday.
In a related development, the court also refused to entertain a petition that wanted it to put on hold the NEET results for 2018. The petitioner claimed there were a lot of mistakes in the translation of the NEET question paper from English to other languages.