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Life does not begin at 40 for doc-to-be
- Aspiring medicine man moves court against age bar in joint entrance exam

What is the one thing you dare not tell Arunesh Das? Life begins at 40.

The 43-year-old trader has moved Calcutta High Court against the state joint entrance examination (JEE) board for using the age barrier to deny him his dream — that of becoming a doctor.

The JEE board has fixed the age limit for aspiring doctors at 24. So, Das is some 20 years too late in trying to appear for the exam. But he is not abandoning his dream without a fight. He has claimed in his petition that the age limit set by the board denies him the fundamental right to education.

“My client wants to be a doctor. He needs to clear the joint entrance examination to seek admission to a medical college,” said Das’s counsel Partha Pratim Bhattacharya. “From an early age, he had to struggle for his livelihood and could not continue with his studies. Now he is in a position to bear the educational expenses to study to be a doctor. How can age be a hindrance to his fulfilling the dream?”

Admitting the petition for hearing, Justice Soumitra Pal asked the JEE board to file its affidavit-in-opposition stating what provisions of law empowered it to fix an age limit for candidates. The matter will be heard again after two weeks.

The board’s lawyers, Subrata Mukhopadhyaya and Maiuddin Sheikh, defended the board’s move to fix 17-to-24 as the age limit for examinees. “The board’s decision was taken on the basis of expert opinion. It’s scientific as students above 24 years find it difficult to retain the vast study material that medical and engineering students have to deal with,” said Mukhopadhyaya, the senior counsel.

Das, who has an iron-scrap unit near Sealdah, has recently cleared his Class XII exams through distant education from an institution in Jamshedpur under the Jharkhand board. His petition states that “there are plenty of examples to prove” that the age bar was unfair. “There are several old men who have excelled in various fields of life. As for my client, he is only 43,” argued his counsel, urging the court to get the JEE board to life the age barrier.

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