The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court took note of the plight of a medical aspirant, who missed out on a seat under the 7.5% quota for NEET-qualified government school students.
She studied at a private school up to Class VI under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act and from Class VII at a government school.
The court heard a petition filed by Shakila Banu, mother of Shabana who missed out on the medical seat. The petitioner said the applications that were made available online for admission to medical courses had no provision to indicate that a student had studied at a private school under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.
There were only two columns: ‘Whether studied from 6th to 12th standard in Tamil Nadu’ and ‘Whether studied from 6th to 12th standard in Tamil Nadu Government School’. As there was no other column to mention her status, the candidate marked the ‘no’ check box. Ms. Shakila Banu sought a direction to the government to consider the plight of her daughter.
The government submitted that the candidate was not considered as she had marked the ‘no’ check box. Had she approached counselling officials promptly, her name could have been added to the list. The selection committee would have been informed of the lacuna.
Justice V. Parthiban said a deserving candidate was denied the benefit of the preferential Act. Officials responsible for formatting the application had not foreseen the plight of such candidates. The dream of the student to become a medical professional could not be allowed to be dashed because of the failure of the officials to formulate the application properly. The authorities had been grossly negligent or oblivious of the status of students like the petitioner’s daughter, he said.
‘Moral, legal obligation’
He said the government was under a moral and legal obligation to consider Ms. Shabana for admission on a priority basis in the following academic year under the 7.5% quota.
He directed the government to reserve a seat for the candidate. The only plausible reparation the government could do was to make amends for the failure to provide a column in the application form for such students, he said.