Ministers of six opposition-ruled states have gone to the Supreme Court, asking it to review its decision on holding NEET and Joint Entrance exams. The petition will come up before the judges today. Despite pleas from various quarters to defer the exam in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the court had refused to oblige, saying the future of the students should not be jeopardized.
The exams, however, have already started. The Joint Entrance Exam (JEE)-Mains for admission to engineering colleges, were held on Tuesday, with thousands of students sitting for it amid strict precautions for coronavirus. Medical entrance exam NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), will be held on September 13.
Around 8.58 lakh candidates registered for the JEE-Main (Joint Entrance Examination) and 15.97 lakh students for NEET.
After the exams were deferred twice, the Supreme Court, on August 17, had rejected petitions from 11 students to defer the exams.
Citing the pandemic and accessibility issues across the country amid floods and lockdown, the students had asked for a third postponement. A number of states and political leaders had backed their demand.
But after the court’s refusal, chief ministers of six opposition-ruled states – Bengal, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Maharashtra – approached the court last week, asking for a review of its decision.
“It is our duty to ensure a safe environment for all our students,” Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had tweeted.
State officials said the exams were a public health risk and they would be blamed for any spike in Covid infection that might result.
Maharashtra Minister Aditya Thackeray had tweeted a copy of his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in which he said a cancellation of exams would prevent a spike in infections.
On the eve of Tuesday’s exams, Congress’s Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP-led Central government of ignoring the students’ plight.
“Modi Govt is jeopardising India’s future. Arrogance is making them ignore the genuine concerns of the JEE-NEET aspirants as well as the demands of those who took SSC and other exams. Give jobs, not empty slogans,” his tweet read.