SC rejects plea seeking postponement of JEE (Main) & NEET-UG exams amid COVID-19

PTI

File photo - Supreme Court of India

File photo – Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking postponement of JEE (Main) April 2020 and NEET-Undergraduate examinations, which are scheduled to be conducted in September, amid spurt in number of COVID-19 cases, saying precious year of students “cannot be wasted” and life has to go on.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said career of students “cannot be put under jeopardy for long”.

“Life has to go on. Life has to move ahead. Precious year of students cannot be wasted,” the bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, said during the hearing conducted through video conferencing while paving the way for commencement of the exams as scheduled.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court that due precautions and all safeguards would be taken while conducting these examinations.

The counsel appearing for the petitioners told the bench that lakhs of students are looking towards the top court for relief and they were only seeking postponement of these exams.

The plea, filed by 11 students belonging to 11 states, had sought quashing of the July 3 notices issued by the National Testing Agency (NTA), by which it was decided to conduct the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) April 2020 and National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)-Undergraduate exams in September.

As per the public notices issued by NTA, JEE (Main) April 2020 is scheduled from September 1-6, while NEET UG 2020 exam is scheduled for September 13.

The plea, filed through advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, had referred to COVID-19 pandemic and said authorities be directed to conduct these exams only after normalcy is restored.

The plea had also sought direction to the authorities to increase the number of examination centres.

“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 best recourse at this stage can be to wait for some more time, let COVID-19 crisis subside and then only conduct these exams, in order to save lives of the students and their parents,” the plea had said.

It had claimed that NTA, which conducts entrance exams for admission in higher educational institutions in India, has decided to conduct JEE (Main) April-2020 through online mode and NEET UG-2020 exams through offline mode at 161 centres across the country.

It had alleged that NTA has indefinitely postponed the National Council of Hotel Management Joint Entrance Examination-2020, which was scheduled to be conducted on June 22, in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plea had also alleged that authorities concerned have ignored the plight of lakhs of students from Bihar, Assam and north eastern states, which are presently reeling under flood, and conducting either online or offline exams in such places may not be possible.

(PTI)