On Wednesday, the High Court of Delhi allowed the 28-year old petitioner to participate in the counselling for admission to the Bachelor of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry degree course after the petitioner has challenged the upper-age limit of 25 years as a criteria for admission to these courses.
With this direction, a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel & Justice Jyoti Singh adjourned the matter for Feb 15.
The Court also noted that the respondent Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying & Veterinary Council of India’s reply were not on record.
The Court was hearing a 28-year old man plea challenging the Regulation 6 of the Veterinary Council of India Minimum Standards of Veterinary Education — (Bachelor of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry Degree Course) Regulations, 2016, in as much as it introduced an upper-age limit of 25 years, as a criteria for admission to Bachelor of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry degree course.
The petitioner was represented by advocates Zoheb Hossain & Vivek Gurnani. The plea has submitted that the regulation is violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 (right to equality), 19(l)(g) (to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business) & 21 (protection of life & personal liberty) of the Constitution. The plea said that apart from creating two artificial classes of students with no reasonable nexus with the objective of maintaining minimum standards of veterinary education & thereby violating Article 14.
The petition also stated that the said regulation has the effect of taking away the right to practice a profession of one’s choice or to carry on any occupation or trade or business guaranteed under Article 19(l)(g) of the Constitution by preventing students above a particular age from pursuing training in the veterinary profession. The restriction imposed on the said right does not qualify to be a reasonable restriction under Article 19 (6) of the Constitution.
According to the petition, the petitioner, Gajanand Mishra, an aspirant has taken the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, 2020 by virtue of the Supreme Court’s orders passed in the petitions challenging the upper age limit set by the Medical Council of India for taking the said National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) examination. The Supreme Court has allowed the candidates above the age of 25 to take the entrance examination (NEET) & the Respondent herein has notified that the admissions to the Bachelor of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry Degree Course shall be on the basis of merit obtained in the said NEET examination.
Moreover, the plea also stated that by stipulating an upper age limit for admissions in the said degree course, the Respondent is creating an invidious classification by dividing one class of students into two artificial & irrational classes, depriving the students over the age of twenty-five & thirty years belonging to general category & SC/ST/OBC categories respectively, the right to avail of medical education as guaranteed to them by the Constitution of India.
Fixing the maximum age limit is neither in furtherance of the objective behind formulating the 2016 Regulations nor does it fit into the scheme of the Regulations which have been primarily framed to maintain standards of veterinary education, the appeal said.