The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to postpone JEE Main examination for students residing in flood-affected areas in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. However, it said that students residing in flood-hit areas can approach the National Testing Agency (NTA), if they were unable to reach the exam centre or reached late. The court asked NTA to check the veracity of the claims and decide their representation within 15 days.
This comes after the state government submitted reports by district collectors stating that the flood situation was grim in only a few areas including Gadchiroli and there would not be transportation issues for examinees from other areas.
Nearly half an hour before the exam was to begin on Tuesday, a division bench of Justice Ravi K Deshpande and Pushpa V Ganediwala urgently heard a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) based on a letter written by a citizen from Bhandara seeking postponement of JEE Main examination scheduled on Tuesday as a relief for students residing in flood-affected districts in Vidarbha.
The HC on Monday evening had directed the Maharashtra Government, Centre and the National Testing agency to consider and urgently respond to a plea for postponing the examination for students from flood-hit areas who were unable to reach centres to appear for the examination.
While the JEE Main was scheduled to commence at 9 am, the HC heard the case from 8:30 am on Tuesday.
The bench on its own motion, took up the plea for urgent hearing on Monday evening when its registry was informed about a letter by one Nitesh Dudhram Bawankar, a resident of Bhandara highlighting problems of JEE-Main examinees from Nagpur, Amravati, Akola, Chandrapur, Gondia and Gadchiroli. The letter stated that due to flood situations prevailing in these areas, the students are unable to attend the examination centres.
The court on Monday was also informed that under the Disaster Management Act, the Municipal Commissioner or Collector of the area, which is not governed by the Municipal Corporation, were empowered to take the decision of holding or postponing of the examination at the particular centre.
The bench noted in the order, “We could see that it may not be possible for the students to reach their centres to appear for the examination, the preparation for which goes on for a year. We were, therefore, anxious to know the flood situation prevailing in all such districts is such that the aspirant-students lose their chance to appear in the examination for no fault on their part.”
On Tuesday morning, Government Pleader S Y Deopujari for the state submitted a report of district collectors of flood-affected areas and said that the situation was grim only in few parts including Gadchiroli, while it has improved in other districts and that students should not suffer for no fault of their own.
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The state said that the NTA was an appropriate authority that can decide the issue of postponing examination for students affected by the flood.
Moreover, Nagpur district collector informed the Court that 1,284 students were to appear for examination in six centres across the district. However, there was no flood-like situation in Nagpur district and the examination can be conducted and students can appear for the same.
Assistant Solicitor General Ulhas M Aurangabadkar for Central Government and NTA submitted that exams can be conducted as per schedule and cannot be postponed for all students in the improved situation and those who are really affected by flood can make representations to the NTA, which will be seriously and appropriately considered after checking their veracity.
After hearing submissions, the Court did not postpone examinations and said in the order, ” In view of the stand taken by district collectors and NTA, we do not find any reason to proceed further in the matter.”
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After hearing submissions, the Court did not postpone examinations and noted that affected students who were unable to attend examination or reached late due to transportation issues can approach NTA via exam centre coordinator and NTA was asked to consult with the concerned district collector and decide within fifteen days after checking the veracity of their representations.
HC said that affected students who were unable to attend examination or reached late due to transportation issues can approach NTA via exam centre coordinator. Disposing the suo motu PIL, the Court directed NTA to consult with the concerned district collector and decide within 15 days after checking the veracity of their representations.
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