The Delhi High Court recently dismissed a plea filed by aspirants seeking admission in Military Nursing Service courses, challenging the notification issued by the National Testing Agency that made clearing of NEET-UG examination a prerequisite.
Justice Rekha Palli dismissed the contention that the exam pattern was changed last minute on account of the extension granted by the NTA to apply for the NEET-UG exam and that candidates will get more than two months' time to prepare and appear in the exam.
"I therefore find no infirmity in the decision of the respondents to include a mandatory eligibility condition of qualifying the NEETUG as per the criteria fixed by the NTA, as a pre-condition for admission to the B.Sc (nursing) in their institutes. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed without no orders as to costs."
The petitioners, who aspire to pursue B.Sc. (Nursing) in MNS had approached Court assailing the notification dated 22 April, 2022 published by the respondents on its web-portal informing the prospective candidates that only candidates who clear the NEET UG-2022 exam will be eligible for admission to the B.Sc. (Nursing) course in MNS for the academic session 2022-23.
Petitioner submitted that for the last many years, admission to B.Sc (Nursing) in the institutes run by the respondents was based on a computer based entrance examination being conducted by the respondents.
In the said examination, the candidates were tested in General English, General Intelligence and Science with 50 marks being allotted for each of these three subjects. However, at the fag end of the academic session, the respondents suddenly issued a notification making the requirement of a candidate qualifying the NEET-UG exam as a pre-requisite for admission to B.Sc (Nursing) without appreciating the fact that the pattern of NEET-UG exam is entirely different from the computer based examination earlier held by the respondents.
In the NEET-UG examination, the students are tested in detail, on different science subjects without any weightage being given to General English and General Intelligence.
It was contended that this last-minute change in the exam pattern has caused grave prejudice to the candidates as a majority of candidates have been preparing for General English and General Intelligence subjects for the last few months in order to appear in the entrance examination as they were under a bonafide belief that the entrance examination for B.Sc (Nursing) would be conducted on the same pattern as was being followed for the last many years.
Apart from the above submissions, the petitioner contended that the last date for applying for NEET-UG, 2022 is 06 May, 2022 and therefore there is very little time for the candidates to apply and appear in the said exam.
Counsel for respondent opposed the petition and submitted that for the last many years, the National Testing Agency (NTA) as well as the various state governments have been issuing guidelines making it clear that the future admissions to B.Sc. course would be based on the marks obtained by a candidate in the NEET-UG examination.
He stated that this change in the exam pattern was necessitated in order to improve the standards of nursing education in the country and to ensure that students who join the B.Sc. (Nursing) course in premier institutions like those being run by the respondents are well qualified.
He further submitted that the petitioners' grievance that they have now been caught unaware and therefore cannot apply for the NEET-UG exam has been already taken care of by the respondents as a further notification dated 01.05.2022 has been issued by the NTA, extending the last date for submitting applications to appear in the NEET-UG exam, 2022 till 15 May, 2022.
Counsel for respondent finally submitted that even the petitioners' apprehension that their preparation in General English and General Intelligence, for the last many months will go waste, is wholly misplaced as the respondents are in the process of issuing a detailed circular which will be published not only in leading newspapers but also on its web portal informing the candidates that the selection for admission to B.Sc (Nursing) will not be based solely on the basis of the NEET-UG score but will also be based on their performance in the Computer Based Tests (CBT) in General English and General Intelligence as also a Psychological Assessment Test (PAT) followed by an interview and medical examination.
He stated that the final selection will be based on the combined merit of the performance of a candidate in NEET-UG, the CBT and interview, subject to the medical fitness.
Court after hearing both counsels at length observed that at the first blush, the grievance of the petitioners appears to be merited as the respondents have admittedly changed the pattern for selection of candidates for admission to B.Sc. (Nursing) only on 22.04.2022. However, on account of the extension granted by the NTA to apply for the NEET-UG exam and taking into account the fact that the NEET-UG exam is scheduled to be held on 17 July, 2022, the petitioners and all other candidates will still get more than two months' time to prepare and appear in the NEET-UG, 2022.
Therefore, the petitioners' plea that they will not have sufficient time to apply and prepare for NEETUG is without any merit and therefore no prejudice will be caused to the interested students to prepare for the NEET-UG exam, which is now a mandatory condition for seeking admission to B.Sc (Nursing) course.
With regard to the drastic change in syllabus the court was of the view that once the experts in the field have taken a considered decision regarding the eligibility conditions and the subjects on which the prospective candidates for admission to the B. Sc (Nursing) course should be tested, this Court ought not to interfere with the same unless it is found to be totally perverse or arbitrary.
"Moreover, since it is an admitted position that most of the universities including the Delhi University and those in the state of Maharashtra, with which the nursing institutes run by the respondents are affiliated, have already issued guidelines directing that the admissions to B.Sc (Nursing) should be based only on NEET-UG examination, the respondents were fully justified in prescribing the same eligibility criteria as prescribed for the NEET-UG, for admission to the B.Sc (Nursing) in their institutes as well. It is not the petitioners' case that the syllabus for NEETUG exam, 2022 is different from syllabus of Class XII and therefore, merely because the students will now be tested in more detail in the science subjects cannot be a reason to interfere with the well-considered decision of the experts."
In view of the above, the Court did not find any merit in the plea of the petitioner and dismissed it.
Case Title: SALONI YADAV & ORS. versus UNION OF INDIA AND ORS
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 464