[Breaking] 11 Students Move SC Seeking Postponement Of NEET, JEE Exams
Citing the risk of COVID-19 pandemic, a writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the postponement of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), scheduled to be held in September 2020.
The petition filed by eleven students from eleven States contends that the decision to hold JEE(Main) through online mode from September 1 to 6 and NEET UG-2020 through offline mode on September 13 at 161 centres across India are "utterly arbitrary, whimsical and violative of the fundamental right to life of lakhs of affected students".
"It is further respectfully submitted that due to their unwell health conditions or due to strong possibility of getting affected by COVID-19, many students may be deprived from appearing in their aforesaid JEE (Main) April-2020 and NEET UG-2020 Exams, which will be in flagrant violation of their fundamental right to equality, as enshrined within Article 14 of Constitution of India", states the plea filed through Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava.
The petition points out that the Institution of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has cancelled the CA exams citing COVID-19 risk. The remaining exams of CBSE/ICSE/ISC have also been cancelled. The Common Law Admission Entrance Test (CLAT) and the National Institute of Open School exams have also been postponed.
Therefore, the petitioners seek parity with the said examinations.
"Lakhs of young students are likely to appear in the aforesaid JEE (Main) April-2020 and NEET UG-2020 Exams in the months of 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 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 plea reads.
It is further argued that the authorities have arbitrarily overlooked that most of the parents of the affected students are facing utmost financial distress due to reduced financial opportunities amid COVID-19 crisis.
"In such a situation, further burdening them with the cost of Transportation, Accommodation and Medical Treatment of their wards, for appearing in the captioned examination, is utterly unjust, unfair and unwarranted", the plea states.
The petitioners also argue that there will be discrimination between students who have access to technology and the internet and those who lack such access.
"It is respectfully submitted that the students who are well equipped with computer and strong internet connection will give online exams while in other hand the students who are unable to give and arrange online exams, will have to come to exam centres by risking their lives. This is a discrimination between students which must be avoided".
"The Respondents have ignored the plight of lakhs of students belonging to Bihar, Assam and North Eastern States, which are presently witnessing incessant flood and thus conducting online or offline examinations in such places, is not possible. The Rail/ Bus and/or other Public Transport are still operating in a restricted manner, as of now. There is no free movement of Railways and only a selected number of Trains are operating.
Those students who are not living in the close proximity of the Examination Centres, will face a lot of difficulties in getting rented/ PG accommodations across India, as Landlords are unwilling to give such accommodation nowadays, due to COVID-19 outbreak. Furthermore, those students who are living in Hostels, will have to share rooms, washrooms and mess with other students, which will enhance their chances of COVID-19 infection", the plea adds.
The petitioners therefore seek to direct the authorities to conduct NEET and JEE "only after normalcy in restored in our country, post COVID-19 crisis".
The petitioners also urge the Court to increase the number of NEET and JEE examination centres across the country and provide at least one centre in one district of each state.