August 18, 2020 4:03:30 am
THE SUPREME Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking postponement of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), scheduled to be held in September, saying that “life cannot be stopped” and the “career of students cannot be put in jeopardy”.
“Life cannot be stopped. We have to move ahead with all safeguards… Can we just stop exams? We should move on,” said Justice Arun Mishra, heading a three-judge Bench hearing the petition.
“Are you ready to waste one whole year? If exams are not held, won’t it be a loss to the country?” he said.
The Bench also comprised Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari.
The JEE (Main) was to be held in April 7-11. Due to the Covid pandemic, it was first postponed to July 18-23, and later rescheduled for September 1-6. The JEE (Advanced) is to be held on September 27.
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), for admission to undergraduate medical programmes, was to be held on May 3. It was first postponed to July 26, and then to September 13.
The petition was filed by a group of 11 students from different states. Appearing for the petitioners, Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava said he was not seeking indefinite postponement but wanted directions to be issued to the National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct the exams only when normalcy returns.
He said relief was granted in the case of exams conducted by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He contended that there is a possibility of a vaccine being available soon, and the Prime Minister had signalled this in his Independence Day speech.
“How can you assume that the authorities are not aware of the situation,” said the bench.
Justice Mishra asked why the exams could not be conducted with precautions when even the Supreme Court is planning to restart physical hearings.
Appearing for the NTA, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the exams should be conducted, and assured the court that adequate precautions would be taken.
Rejecting the plea, the bench said there was no reason to interfere with the policy decision and noted that it had taken into account the Solicitor General’s assurance that there would be adequate safeguards.
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