The Supreme Court on Friday put on hold a regulation capping the age of candidates taking the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) to 25 years and said all candidates, irrespective of age, can fill up the forms for the medical entrance exams till April 5. “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 (MCI), 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,” said a bench led by Justice Dipak Misra.
The court was hearing a clutch of petitions by medical aspirants who had pointed out that the age limit was prescribed by the MCI without there being a regulation to impose a condition like this. The petitions complained that the MCI had exceeded its authority by stipulating an age bar through a mere notice, doing away with the need to formally issue a regulation. While the MCI asserted its authority, the bench held a prima facie view that the age limit could not have been prescribed by the regulator without a formal exercise of issuing pertinent regulations.
In this situation, the court said, it was imperative to extend the deadline to April 5 for the candidates above 25 years of age who would now want to fill up the NEET application forms. The last date for acceptance of forms was March 1 and the examination is going to be held on May 7. It also restrained all high courts from entertaining any litigation pertaining to allocation of exam centres. The court has now fixed the matter in July for a detailed hearing.