Even as ministers of six opposition-ruled states, including West Bengal, moved the Supreme Court on Friday seeking review of its order permitting the Centre to conduct NEET and JEE entrance exams this year, amid the pandemic, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the state government was weighing the pros and cons of holding final year college and university exams before Durga Puja in October.

She slammed the Centre over its decision to conduct JEE and NEET exams in September and said the Union government’s “adamant approach” will add to the COVID-19 woes.

“I have told our education minister to look into the possibility of conducting the finalyear exams in universities and colleges before Durga Puja in October. The options of both online and offline exams should be looked into. “We are not against any exam; we are just saying that a pandemic is on, and it could put lives of students at risk,” Banerjee said while addressing a virtual rally of Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP).

The Supreme Court ruled earlier in the day that states and universities cannot promote students without holding final-year exams by 30 September.

The court said if any state feels it cannot conduct exams by 30 September, it must approach the UGC for new dates. Criticising the Centre over its decision to hold JEE- NEET exams in September, Banerjee said, “We asked the Union government to defer the process due to the pandemic. But the Union government is adamant… It is busy issuing sermons instead of listening to Mann ki Baat of students.”

West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee on Friday said the Union government’s decision to hold JEE (Main) and NEET in September, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, will expose over 25 lakh students in the country to health hazards. Chatterjee, who was addressing a rally on the occasion of Trinamul Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) Foundation Day, also said that the decision will increase chances of virus transmission and put several lives at risk at a time when all states are striving hard to tide over the coronavirus crisis. The education minister, who is also the TMC secretary general, said the government is hopeful that the apex court would consider the appeal.

All India Trinamool Youth Congress president Abhishek Banerjee alleged that the Narendra Modi government “did not present a true picture” of the Covid-19 situation in the country to the Supreme Court. He sought to know why the Centre wasn’t conducting the exams on any digital platform.

TMCP state president Trinankur Bhattacharya, who organised a sit-in on to protest against the Centre’s decision, termed the move “suicidal” and said the students’ body “cannot sit idle under the present circumstances”.