CLEARING THE way for NEET and JEE (Main), the Supreme Court Friday dismissed a clutch of petitions, including one filed by Ministers from six Opposition-ruled states, seeking a review of its August 17 order that allowed the entrance exams for medical and engineering courses to be conducted.
“We have carefully gone through the review petitions and the connected papers. We find no merit in the review petitions and the same are accordingly dismissed,” a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and B R Gavai said.
The review petitions were considered in-chamber. The JEE (Main) started on September 1 and will continue till September 6, while NEET will be held on September 13.
Of the 4,58,521 students who had registered for the JEE (Main), 3,43,958 had appeared for the exam till September 3.
In their plea, the six Ministers from Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh had referred to the rise in Covid cases and said that a two-month delay would give the government time “to put in place an adequate mechanism in consultation with the state governments to ensure a smoother and safer conduct of examinations”.
They argued that if the August 17 order was not reviewed, “grave and irreparable harm and injury would befall the student community”, and it would endanger the health of candidates and put public health in “severe jeopardy”.
The Ministers who moved the court are: Moloy Ghatak (West Bengal), Rameshwar Oraon (Jharkhand), Raghu Sharma (Rajasthan), Amarjeet Bhagat (Chhattisgarh), Balbir Singh Sidhu (Punjab), and Uday Ravindra Samant (Maharashtra).
They said that according to the National Testing Agency (NTA), “25 lakh students cumulatively would be appearing for these two examinations”, the petition stated.
“Such large movement of people will ipso facto prove to be a serious health hazard and will totally defeat the twin present-day solutions we have of combating the Covid-19 — i.e. social distancing and avoidance of large public gatherings,” it said.
The plea contended that since there is “absolutely no classroom teaching, the decision …to conduct examinations on such a massive scale reveals non-application of mind and is unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious exercise of power.”
The petitioners called the conduct of exams a remedy that will “prove to be worse than the disease itself”.