The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking the postponement of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), scheduled to be held in September 2020.
Refusing to defer the examinations, the top court said, “The careers of students can’t be put in jeopardy”.
“Life cannot be stopped. We have to move ahead with all safeguards and all… Are students ready to waste one whole year? Education should be opened up. Covid may continue for a year more. Are you going to wait another year? Do you know what the loss to the country and peril to the students is?” Justice Arun Mishra, who headed a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, was quoted as saying by NDTV.
Citing the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, a plea was moved in the Supreme Court on August 6 to quash and set aside public notices issued by the National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct the JEE (Main) April 2020 exam between September 1 and 6 and the NEET on September 13.
The petitioners’ urged the apex court to give directions to the Centre to conduct JEE and NEET exams only after normalcy is restored in the country, post the COVID-19 crisis.
The plea filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, on behalf of 11 students from 11 states, contended that lakhs of young students are likely to appear in the JEE (Main) April-2020 and NEET UG-2020 exam in the month of September.
“The deadly COVID-19 pandemic has already affected about 20 lakh people in India and the situation is worsening by every passing day. Conducting the examination across India at such perilous time, is nothing else but putting lives of lakhs of young students at utmost risk and danger of disease and death,” said the plea.
The petitioners argued that the best recourse at this stage can be to wait for some more time and let the Coronavirus crisis subside.
The plea also contended that instead of postponing the exams, the NTA has decided to conduct the JEE (Main) April-2020 exam on (1-6) September, 2020, through online mode and NEET UG-2020 on September 13 through offline mode at 161 centres across India.
“This violates the fundamental right to the lives of lakhs of the affected students (including the petitioners), as enshrined within Article 21 of the Constitution and thus the exam schedule is liable to be quashed and set aside on this ground alone,” it argued.
“It is respectfully submitted that the students who are well equipped with computers and strong internet connection will give online exams while in other hand the students who are unable to give and arrange online exams , will have to come to exam centres by risking their lives. This is a discrimination between students which must be avoided,” said the plea.
The plea also argued that the concerned authorities have ignored the plight of lakhs of students belonging to Bihar, Assam and northeastern states, witnessing incessant flood and thus conducting online or offline examinations in such places, is not possible.
The petitioners’ further urged the Supreme Court to increase the number of examination centres after normalisation ensuring that at least one examination centre is kept in every district of India.