Ministers of six opposition-ruled states Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking review of its order allowing the Centre to conduct NEET and JEE entrance exams this year amid the prevailing coronavirus pandemic situation.
The review plea, filed by ministers from West Bengal (Moloy Ghatak), Jharkhand (Rameshwar Oraon), Rajasthan (Raghu Sharma), Chhattisgarh (Amarjeet Bhagat), Punjab (B S Sidhu) and Maharashtra (Uday Ravindra Sawant), said the apex court order fails to satisfy safety and security concerns of the students who will be appearing for the exams.
In an order on August 17, the top court had dismissed a plea seeking postponement of the NEET and JEE, the medical and engineering entrance exams, scheduled to be held in September, saying that “life cannot be stopped” and the “career of students cannot be put in jeopardy”. “Are you ready to waste one whole year? If exams are not held, won’t it be a loss to the country?” Justice Arun Mishra, heading a three-judge bench, had said while hearing the petition.
The apex court had dismissed the plea by one Sayantan Biswas and others seeking direction to National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts both the NEET and JEE exams, to postpone them after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured that all safeguards would be taken.
Terming the decision to go ahead with the exams irrational, the plea by the opposition ministers said the top court failed to appreciate that the central government had enough time to establish at least one centre for every district for NEET (UG) and JEE (Mains) rather than having several centres in one district, news agency PTI reported.
The plea further stated that the mere fact that lakhs of students have registered for the exam is not indicative of their consent or their willingness or their desire to attend physical exams. It also termed the August 17 order as “cryptic, non-speaking” and said it does not discuss the various aspects and complexities involved in a matter of this magnitude and complex nature.
The plea added that the two reasons given by the court –– “life must go on and students should not lose an academic year” –– do not constitute an authoritative and comprehensive judicial scrutiny of the issue.
Editorial | Testing times
“It is submitted that if the impugned order dated August 17, 2020 is not reviewed then grave and irreparable harm and injury would befall on the student community of our country and not only will the health, welfare and safety of the students/candidates appearing for the NEET/JEE examinations would stand imperilled but also the public health at large would be in severe jeopardy in these COVID-19 pandemic times,” the petition said.
The review plea also comes two days after Congress chief Sonia Gandhi convened a meeting of opposition chief ministers, in which seven chief ministers decided to approach the Supreme Court seeking postponement of the JEE-NEET examinations in view of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, a number of Delhi Congress leaders and workers, including its president Anil Kumar, were detained by the police on Friday during a protest they were holding against the decision to conduct JEE and NEET exams amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Several Congressmen were detained near the Shastri Bhawan and taken to the Mandir Marg police station, Kumar told PTI. “The Centre and its education ministry are endangering the lives of 25 lakh students by being adamant on holding the JEE and NEET when the number of coronavirus cases is going up in the country,” he added.
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