The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking postponement of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), which was scheduled to be held in September 2020.
The bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari was hearing a plea filed by 11 students from 11 states, submitting that the decision to hold JEE and NEET exams in September 2020 at a time when the country was still fighting COVID-19 was “utterly arbitrary, whimsical and violative of the fundamental right to life of lakhs of affected students.”
The petitioners submitted: “Lakhs of young students are likely to appear in the aforesaid JEE (Main) April-2020 and NEET UG-2020 exams in 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 the 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.”
The bench, while dismissing the petition, said that the postponement of exams will only put the career of students at peril and if exams were not held, students will lose an academic year which will be a loss to the country.
The bench further pointed out that if demand was being made for resuming physical functioning of courts then “why can’t exams be held by taking necessary precautions?”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for NTA, ensured the court that adequate precautions will be taken while conducting the exams.
Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, appearing for the petitioner, however, submitted that since the risk arising from the pandemic was still existing and other exams like CA and CLAT have been cancelled, NEET and JEE should also be cancelled.
The bench, however, said that it was not going to interfere with policy decisions of the authorities and took on record SG Mehta’s submission that exams will be conducted with adequate precautions.