Deciding body (English)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
Outcome of the decision
Both cases pertain to a claim of a fundamental rights violation due to policy decisions made regarding the conduct of examinations and their evaluation. Both Courts stated that they would not interfere in matters of public policy and that it was up to the executive to decide such matters without arbitrariness.
In Case 1, the contention was that medical students who wanted to appear for the NEET PG 2022 exam subsequent to the NEET PG 2021 exam were denied an opportunity to register and appear due to the tight time frame between the two exams which justified their claim for postponement. The Court held that certain exceptions might have been made during the previous year’s enrollment as a result of the pandemic, but this was not to be made a norm, especially once the pandemic had subsided. Hence, relief was denied to the plaintiffs and there was to be no change in the post-graduate medical examination.
In Case 2, students wanted to appear for a “Betterment Examination” to improve their marks scored on the H.S. Final Exam. Due to the pandemic the examination was cancelled by the Government of Assam and notification was issued laying down the manner in which marks were to be allotted to the students under various categories. Not satisfied with these marks, the students filed a writ petition. The petition was disposed of without granting the relief sought. As a result the students appealed. Since no material was submitted to suggest that the guidelines/notifications relating to the evaluation process had been arrived at without considering the relevant factors, the appeal was dismissed.
Facts of the case
In Case 1, the petitioners were MBBS graduate doctors who had already appeared for the NEET PG 2021 examination and were participating in the ongoing counselling process for 2021-2022. Their grievance pertained to the schedule prescribed by the National Board of Examination for holding the NEET PG 2022 examination on May 21, 2022 which left the aspirants who wished to appear again in the NEET PG 2022 examination with little time to prepare. Hence, the writ was filed which sought an extension of the registration date for the NEET PG 2022 exam as well as postponement of the exam.
In Case 2, appellants were students who were not satisfied with the marks obtained in their H.S. Final examination in 2020 conducted by the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council and who wanted to opt for a “Betterment examination” which was not conducted by the Government of Assam due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the Assam Department of Education notified them of the manner in which the marks were to be allotted under various categories for the exam in question which was deemed faulty by the petitioner. Hence, an appeal was filed. The point of contention was that the allocation of marks stipulated proved to be an opportunity for unsuccessful candidates to score better and did not provide the appellants with better marks. This according to the appellant was arbitrary and discriminatory in as much as it was an unjust classification amongst similarly situated groups.
Type of measure challenged
- City government measure
- National government measure
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
- Case 1 – Postponement of NEET PG 2022 examination until the counseling for NEET PG 2021 is resolved.
- Case 2 – Rectification of the marks allotment process in the Betterment Examination conducted by the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council.
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Reasoning of the deciding body
In Case 1 it was stated that postponement of the examination would have had a cascading effect on patient care as the number of resident doctors had reduced due to a delay in conducting the exam. It would also have jeopardized the career of those doctors who had already registered in large numbers for the examination. This would likely have resulted in chaos and uncertainty. It was highlighted that postponements were made earlier due to an unprecedented human crisis and that such actions were not to become the norm. Patient care and treatment needs must be paramount in the clash of rival interests between doctors who registered for the examination and those who did not register. Balancing priorities in an administration is a task entrusted to the executive and not to the courts.
In Case 2, it was noted that the system of evaluation was decided upon by the Alternative Method Committee (AMC) which was subsequently approved by the Government of Assam. It was found that all decisions were made in proper consideration of the circumstances at the time while complying with all the required steps and in the best interests of the student community. It was held that the academic authorities should be given the liberty to frame policies which were suited for conducting their functions and in the interests of the student community.
Conclusions of the deciding body
The claims were rejected in both cases. The Courts dismissed the writ and appeal respectively and stated that the matters presented were a matter of policy and did not warrant the Court’s interference.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Art. 14, Indian Constitution
- Art. 21, Indian Constitution
Rights and freedoms specifically identified as (possibly) conflicting with the right to health
General principle applied
Balancing techniques and principles (proportionality, reasonableness, others)
It is well-settled law that unless it can be shown to be contrary to a statute or a Rule, academic authorities should be given the liberty to frame policies suited for conducting their functions and in the interests of the student community. Balancing priorities in an administration is a difficult task. The task is entrusted to the executive and not to the courts.
Unless the Court is satisfied that a decision made by the authorities was without application of mind to relevant circumstances or was manifestly arbitrary, there would be no reason for the Court to interfere.