JEE, NEET: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the plea for deferment or cancellation of medical and engineering entrance examinations, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), scheduled to be held in September.
Eleven students belonging to 11 different states had sought cancellation of the public notices dated 3 July 2020 issued by the National Testing Agency (NTA) scheduling the examination of JEE (Main) April-2020 between 1 September and 6 September 2020 and NEET UG-2020 on 13 September 2020. The petitioners contended that there is an alarming spurt of covid-19 cases in India and sought directions for the NTA to conduct the JEE (Main) April-2020 and NEET UG-2020 only after normalcy is restored, after the covid-19 crisis is over.
The petitioners had also said NTA has ignored the plight of lakhs of students of Bihar, Assam and the north-eastern states, which are witnessing incessant floods and thus conducting online or offline examinations in such places, is not possible.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing NTA, assured the court that all precautions will be taken in view of the covid-19 pandemic.
The apex court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said the “career of students cannot be put under jeopardy for long”. “Life cannot be stopped. We have to move ahead with all safeguards…. Education should be opened up. Covid may continue for a year more. Are you going to wait another year? Do you know what is the loss to the country and peril to the students?” Justice Mishra asked. On the assurance given by NTA, the court observed that the exams must go on with all protections in place.
The petition filed through advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava had alleged that the respondents have arbitrarily overlooked that most of the parents of the affected students are facing utmost financial distress amid covid-19 crisis. In such a situation, further burdening them with the cost of transportation, accommodation and medical treatment of their wards, for appearing in the captioned examination, is utterly unjust, unfair and unwarranted.
They had also sought directions to increase the number of examination centres for JEE (Main) April -2020 and NEET UG-2020 and to provide at least one examination centre in every district of India.
Responding to the court’s decision, Saurya Bhattacharya, partner at law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, said: “The decision by the SC comes at a time when the societal discourse appears to be carrying on with important activities, albeit with precautions… Sufficient infrastructure and support to conduct the exams in this spirit will be something that will require close attention from the government, as students and accompanying guardians who have to travel to test centres would be dealing with fear and uncertainties in relation to connectivity and safety, compounding the expected exam pressures.”
“It will be interesting to see how the apex court treats the cases relating to CBSE compartment examination as well as UGC exams after today’s outcome,” he added.