Karnataka HC Allows NEET-PG Aspirant to Rectify Caste Error and Benefit from Reservation: Oversight Not Ground for Denial of Entitlement

Case Title: Dr Lakhsmi P Gowda AND National Board of Examinations In Medical Sciences & Others

Case No: Writ Petition No 12859/2023

Date of Order: 10-08-2023



The Karnataka High Court intervened to assist a 23-year-old student who, while completing the online registration for the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test-PG (NEET-PG), mistakenly omitted selecting her caste within the OBC category reservation.


In this case, Dr. Lakshmi P Gowda filed a petition before a division bench of Justice G Narendar and Justice Vijaykumar A Patil, seeking a correction in her application/score card for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) exam. She had inadvertently marked herself under the General Merit Category (GMC) instead of the Other Backward Class (OBC) category during the online registration process. The petitioner, belonging to the Vokkaliga caste, which is categorized as OBC in Karnataka, realized the error upon reviewing her application and immediately requested correction. When her request was not granted, she approached the court for relief.


The court, after considering the facts and arguments presented, ruled in favor of Dr. Lakshmi P Gowda. The court held that mere inadvertent errors made during the application process should not be used to deny a candidate the opportunity they are otherwise entitled to based on merit. The court directed the National Board of Examinations In Medical Sciences to allow the correction of her category entry from General to OBC in Column No.7 of the application/score card. Furthermore, the court ordered the insertion of her name in the order of merit for consideration under the OBC quota.

The court rejected the respondents’ argument that allowing such corrections would result in a flood of similar petitions. It stated that presuming widespread errors without evidence would be unfounded. The court clarified that the petitioner was not seeking inclusion in multiple reservation categories, but rather requesting rightful consideration within the OBC quota.

The court also addressed concerns about altering the merit list and cited the objective of the NEET process – to ensure meritorious candidates are not denied opportunities. It noted that punishing candidates for approaching the court by placing them at the bottom of the merit list would not be just. The court emphasized that NEET aims to provide a fair platform for candidates to showcase their merit and abilities.

Considering that there was ample time left in the counseling process, the court found it equitable to grant the petitioner the opportunity for correction and inclusion in the merit list. It pointed out that her inclusion would not harm other candidates in the list, as the merit list’s structure depends on both the number of candidates and the cutoff marks set by the authority.

In conclusion, the court allowed the petitioner’s plea, asserting that this ruling should not be treated as a precedent. The case highlights the court’s focus on ensuring fairness and justice in the NEET process, while also emphasizing the importance of correcting inadvertent errors without punishing diligent candidates seeking redressal.

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Written by- Shreya Sharma

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