Madras High Court

Madras High Court: G R Swaminathan J. directed the State to pay compensation of Rs 1 Lakh to a student who could not take admission in the medical course in the academic year 2021-2022 as he was unable to register his name on the portal for NEET counseling even after obtaining marks beyond cut off limit, due to poor internet connectivity.

The petitioner aspiring to be a doctor is aggrieved because even after securing 409 marks in NEET exam, he could not register his name on the portal on time because of poor internet connectivity and the server being busy. He later found that students who scored as low as 108 marks in NEET were allotted seats under the management quota. Thus, instant petition was filed under Article 226 praying to issue a writ of Mandamus directing the respondents to give admission to the petitioner in any one of the Medical College under the Management Quota based on the petitioner’s NEET Examinations score.

The Court reaffirmed the stand of the counsel for respondent stating that it is not possible to direct the admission of the petitioner for any medical course for the academic year 2021-22 as the writ petition was filed in April 2022 .

The Court also remarked for the marks obtained by him was entitled to get admission in a medical course under management quota but could not because of online glitches. If the respondents adopted a dual mode of counselling, i.e., both physical and online, the situation could have been avoided and also,If the respondents had given the petitioner reasonable time to register himself in the portal, then probably, he could have made it.

Placing reliance on Asha v. PTBD Sharma University of Health Sciences, (2012) 7 SCC 389 and S Krishna Sradha v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2020) 17 SCC 465, the Court noted that Court must do complete justice between the parties, particularly, where the legitimate right of the Appellant stands frustrated because of inaction or inappropriate action on the part of the concerned Respondents and in an appropriate case the Court may award the compensation to such a meritorious candidate who for no fault of his/her has to lose one full academic year and who could not be granted any relief of admission in the same academic year.

Further reliance was placed on Action Committee Unaided Recognized Private Schools v. Justice for All, Special Leave to Appeal (C) No. 4351 of 2021, decided on 08-10-2021 to emphasize that the digital divide has produced stark inequality in terms of access to education. Children belonging to EWS/DG suffer the consequence of not being able to fully pursue their education and many may have to drop out because of lack of access to internet and computers.

The Court directed the State to pay a sum of Rs.1 lakh as compensation to the petitioner-student within a period of eight weeks and ensure that the selection process is conducted and finalized in such a way so as to ensure that incidents such as the one on hand do not recur.

[K Lal Bhagadhur v. Director of Medical Education, 2022 SCC OnLine Mad 3661, decided on 13-07-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. D. Srinivasaraghavan for Mr. S.M. Mohan Gandhi, Advocates, for the Petitioner;

Mr. V. Om. Prakash, Government Advocate, for the Respondents.

*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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