A plea has been dismissed by the Supreme Court seeking the postponement of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), scheduled to be held in September 2020.
It was noted by Justice Arun Mishra, presiding the bench, that the ‘career of the students will be in peril’ if the dates of the exams are postponed.
Questions posed by the Justice in the postponement of NEET and JEE
While dismissing the petitions, Justice Arun Mishra said, ‘Life should move on even in COVID-19 times. Can we just stop exams? We should move on.’
Justice Mishra questioned, “If exams are not held, won’t it be a loss to the country? Students will lose the academic year.”
Justice Mishra further questioned,“Are you not demanding that Courts should re-open? Why can’t exams be held with precautions?”
Representing NTA, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, submitted that adequate precautions will be taken and that exams should be conducted.
The petitioners’ submissions were represented by Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastavan and it was expressed that the risk of COVID-19 was increasing, and several other exams like CA exams, CLAT etc have been canceled.
Justice Mishra questioned, ‘how can you assume that the authorities are not aware of the situation?’
The submission was also made by Advocate Alakh that there is a chance of vaccine coming soon for COVID-19 as even the Prime Minister said about it in his August 15 speech.
Advocate clarified that he is seeking postponement for some time and not an indefinite postponement of the exam.
The bench however without being persuaded by these submissions noted that it will not interfere with the policy decision taken by the authorities.
The submissions of Solicitor General that exams will be held with adequate precautions were also taken into the record by the bench.
The Background to the NEET and JEE Plea
Eleven students from eleven States filed the petition mentioning the decision to hold JEE (Main) through online mode from September 1 to 6 and NEET UG-2020 through offline mode on September 13 at 161 centers across India is “utterly arbitrary, whimsical and violative of the fundamental right to life of lakhs of affected students.”
(Sayantan Biswavs and others vs National Testing Agency and others)
Submissions in the NEET and JEE Postponement Plea
The petition expresses out citing COVID-19 risk that the Institution of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has cancelled the CA exams and that CBSE/ICSE/ISC have also cancelled remaining exams. The National Institute of Open School exams and the Common Law Admission Entrance Test (CLAT) have also been postponed.
Hence, with the said examinations, the petitioners seek parity.
“Lakhs of young students are likely to appear in the aforesaid JEE (Main) April-2020 and NEET UG-2020 Exams in the months of September 2020. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are increasing in India at an alarming rate. The deadly pandemic COVID-19 has already affected about 20 Lakh people in India and situation is worsening by every passing day. Conducting the aforesaid examination across India at such perilous time is nothing else but putting lives of lakhs of young students (including Petitioners herein) at utmost risk and danger of disease and death.“Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava while Filing the Plea