Supreme Court.(HT file )

The Supreme Court is expected to consider a plea from ministers from six opposition-ruled states on Friday to request a review of its Aug. 17 order allowing NEET and JEE exams to be physically held.

Ministers had alleged that the top court order failed to secure the students’ “right to life” and ignored the “logistical teething difficulties” that could arise when conducting exams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Testing Agency (NTA), which runs both exams, conducts main JEE exams September 1-6, while the NEET exams take place on September 13th.

A bench of Judges Ashok Bhushan, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari will examine the reason for the investigation in chambers.

Supreme Court review matters are usually considered “in-chambers” in which the petition is distributed among all judges in the bank. The judges then decide in the chambers whether the request for review has merit in re-examining the case in the open trial.

The Apex Court’s August 17 ruling that allowed the trials to take place has turned into a political battle as ministers of six states – ruled by parties like Congress, TMC, JMM, NCP and Shiv Sena – postpone the Exams proposed a way that accomplishes the dual aim of ensuring that students’ academic year is not wasted and that their health and safety are not compromised. “The reason for the review was submitted by ministers from West Bengal (Moloy Ghatak), Jharkhand (Rameshwar Oraon), Rajasthan (Raghu Sharma), Chhattisgarh (Amarjeet Bhagat), Punjab (BS Sidhu) and Maharashtra (Uday Ravindra Sawant).

Lawyer Sunil Fernandes’ plea alleged that the Apex Court’s order did not address the safety concerns of students having to appear for the exams.

The Supreme Court had refused to interfere in running the medical and technical entrance exams, stating that life must go on and that students cannot lose a precious year due to the pandemic.

The Apex Court rejected a motion by Sayantan Biswas and others requesting an order from the NTA to postpone it on August 17 after Attorney General Tushar Mehta assured that all protective measures would be taken.

In the plea, the decision to conduct the test was described as irrational. The Supreme Court failed to appreciate that the Union government had sufficient time to set up at least one NEET (UG) and JEE (Mains) center for each district, rather than having multiple centers in one district.

The review petition states that the mere fact that lakhs of students have signed up for the exam does not indicate their consent, willingness, or desire to take physical exams. The August 17th order was said to be “cryptic, non-speaking” and did not discuss various aspects and complexities associated with a matter of this magnitude.

The plea stated that only two grounds put forward by the court – life must go on and students should not lose an academic year – do not constitute authoritative and comprehensive judicial review of the matter.

The Apex Court’s observation that “Life Must Go On” may have a very solid philosophical foundation cannot, however, be a substitute for valid legal justification and logical analysis of the various aspects involved in carrying out the NEET UG and JEE Exams play a role.

“It is argued that if the contested decision of August 17, 2020 is not reviewed, the student community of our country would suffer serious and irreparable damage, and not just the health, well-being and safety of the students / candidates they serve The NEET / JEE investigations would be endangered, but public health as a whole would also be seriously endangered in these COVID-19 pandemic times, “the plea said.

The petition states that, according to the NIA press release, approximately 9.53 lakhs and 15.97 lakhs students have been enrolled in JEE (Main) and NEET (UG) 2020, respectively.

According to the plea, JEE Mains will be run through 660 test centers with 9.53 lakhs students, approximately 1,443 students per center. Similarly, NEET UG will see 15.97 lakhs students at 3,843 centers across the country, nearly 415 students per center, it said.

“Such a large movement of people will ipso facto turn out to be a serious health risk and today’s dual solutions for combating the COVID-19 pandemic, i. H. Totally negate social distancing and avoidance of large public gatherings. For this brief reason alone, the contested Order deserves to be recalled, and the trials deserve to be postponed, ”the plea said.

The petitioners do not want to make a value judgment or political criticism of the Union government during such times, but the undisputed facts are that there has been an exponential increase in COVID-19 positive cases as well as deaths from the virus since April.

“It is quite ironic that in the early stages, when there were far fewer COVID-19 positive cases, the investigations have been postponed and now, when the daily spread of the virus has peaked, the investigations should be done immediately.” the plea said.


NEET, JEE exams: SC to examine on September 4th, to review pleadings of ministers from 6 opposition-ruled states

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