Reconsider minimum age for prof courses: Court

The Madras High Court on Saturday held that the minimum age criterion fixed decades ago requires reconsideration given the vast changes in education pattern and methodology after the introduction of New Education Policy (NEP) and the Right to Education Act (RTE).
Reconsider minimum age for prof courses: Court

Chennai

Justice G Jayachandran, while dismissing a plea moved by a mother seeking admission for her underage daughter, Malathi, for B Sc Nursing citing statutes, said: “Bright and brilliant children completing the qualifying examinations a few months or days earlier have increased.”

“Those students cannot be forced to take a break and be deprived of their right to continuous education because of the minimum age prescribed. It is time for the authorities to take a call on this issue,” the judge added.

The girl’s mother submitted that her daughter secured 58.83 per cent in the qualifying examination and she is eligible to join the course. However, her candidature has not been considered for admission because Dr MGR Medical University, has prescribed the minimum age for admission as 17 years as on December 31, 2019, which she would be unable to meet.

Her counsel submitted that the policy of fixing 17 years as the minimum age for admission into B Sc Nursing is irrational and illegal. There is no nexus between the object and the classification making students who have not reached the age of 17 years ineligible, he said while noting that the Nursing Council has not prescribed minimum age.

But the counsel appearing for Dr MGR Medical University submitted that the fixation of minimum age for admission as 17 years is based on the Nursing Council’s mandate.

This age limit is uniformly followed for courses like MBBS/BDS and Engineering across the country. “There is no discrimination or unreasonable classification,” he said while noting that the age of petitioner’s daughter is 16 years and five months.

However, Justice Jayachandran, on holding that the policy of the State fixing minimum age for admission cannot be assailed, said: “Fixation of minimum age as eligibility criteria is a decision of the State. It cannot be either judicially reviewed or interfered unless such fixation is done arbitrarily or with mala fide.”

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