Supreme court’s vacation bench of Hon’ble Justice Adarsh Kumar and Hon’ble Justice Ashok Bhushan on 4 June 2018 agreed to decide on the validity of upper age limit of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Exam and issued a notice regarding a challenge to 2017 amendment of MCI Regulations on Graduate Medical Education of 1997.
Amendment specified the upper age limit of 25 years for the general category and 30 years for schedule caste and schedule tribe and other backward classes as well as physically handicapped for the admission to MBBS course.
The bench on hearing Special leave petition of Delhi High court under the proviso of clause 4(1)of Regulation stated as:-
Criteria: “No person shall be allowed to admit to a medical curriculum of first Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery(MBBS)course 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.
Provided further that in order to be eligible, the upper age limit for candidate appearing for National Eligibility Entrance Test and seeking admission to MBBS program shall be 25 years as on the date of examination with relaxation 5 years to SC/ST/OBC category and physically handicapped persons entitled to reservation under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act”
On this it was urged by senior counsel “Amrender Sharan” from petitioners side :
“Its is Restrictive and Artificial and serve no real objective; the regulation is bad as per the MCI Committee as well the Central Government, it has been recommended that the countries need more doctors “
Minutes where noted of MCI Executive on 16th March 2017 that “With regards to upper age limit &number of attempts, as per oversight Committee as well as letter dated 2nd March 2017 of the ministry of health and family welfare, it has been decided by the ministry to delete the upper age limit, as well as the number of attempts, needs Doctors and the limitation would be restrictive in nature. After due deliberation, Executive Committee of the Council directed the office to place the amendments as approved by the central Govt before the General Body.”
That policies decision and its regulations are in exercise of legislative power. When candidates secure higher marks increase the competition resulting in better doctors as pressed by senior advocate, given the High Court has observed that a candidate who is 17 or 18 years old would find it hard to compete with older and more experienced candidates as a compounder, ward boy or nurse.
Rejecting interim relief as the result of NEET 2018 was to be declared on the same day, and the bench agreed to hear the matter on law point.
The petitions are scheduled for hearing in July 2018.