Sept. 3, 2020, 10:01 p.m.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday will take up a plea by six ministers of opposition-ruled states — West Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand — who jointly filed a review petition, challenging the court’s August 17 order declining to entertain petitions seeking postponement of NEET-JEE exams slated in September against the backdrop of Covid-19.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari will take up the plea in-chamber.
The petition, filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, contends the petitioners have moved the top court to “secure the safety, security and right to life of the students -candidates appearing for the NEET/JEE exams”.
The petition argues that the top court has ignored the logistical difficulties in conducting the examinations at the proposed dates.
“Failed to balance the competing but equally important aspects of conducting the examination and securing safety of the student. Fails to ensure that mandatory safeguards are put in place during the conduct of the examinations,” said the petition challenging the August 17 order.
“The advice of ‘Life Must Go On’ may have very sound philosophical underpinnings but cannot be a substitute for valid legal reasoning and logical analysis of the various aspects involved in the conduct of the NEET UG and JEE exams,” the petitioners argued.
They said the apex court failed to appreciate that the Centre had adequate time to establish at least one centre for every district for NEET (UG) and JEE (Mains) rather than having several centres in one district. “Having at least one centre per district would have minimised the inter-district, long travel of the students and thereby reduced the chances of Covid-19 spread,” they argued.
The petitioners contended that if the August 17 order is not reviewed, then grave and irreparable harm and injury would befall the student community of the country and it will impact health, welfare and safety of the students/candidates appearing for the NEET/JEE examinations.
Petitioner number one is West Bengal Labour and Law Minister Moloy Ghatak, number two is Jharkhand Finance Minister Rameshwar Oraon, the third is Rajasthan Health and Family Welfare Minister Raghu Sharma, the fourth petitioner is Chhattisgarh’s Food and Civil Supplies Minister Amarjeet Bhagat, the fifth is Punjab’s Health and Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, and the sixth is Maharashtra’s Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Ravindra Samant.
“With regards to the second reason of losing a year, it is most respectfully submitted that this would be tantamount to putting the cart before the horse, as the submissions hereinabove have revealed. The review petitioners too do not desire for the students to lose an academic year, but wish to balance their health, safety and security and that of their family with not losing the current academic year,” said the petition.