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CAT 2020 Re-Test Can't Be Ordered Merely Because Petitioner Missed It Due To COVID19 : Kerala High Court

Nupur Thapliyal
7 Jan 2021 1:12 PM GMT
CAT 2020 Re-Test Cant Be Ordered Merely Because Petitioner Missed It Due To COVID19 : Kerala High Court
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A Single Judge Bench of the Kerela High Court comprising of Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar refused to grant relief to a candidate who could not appear for the Common Admission Test 2020 after being positive for Covid-19. The exam was scheduled to take place on 29.11.2020 however, the petitioner was found positive two days before the date of examination. As the petitioner could not appear for...

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A Single Judge Bench of the Kerela High Court comprising of Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar refused to grant relief to a candidate who could not appear for the Common Admission Test 2020 after being positive for Covid-19. The exam was scheduled to take place on 29.11.2020 however, the petitioner was found positive two days before the date of examination. As the petitioner could not appear for the respective examination, a petition was filed in the Kerela HC seeking directions on the Union of India, State of Kerela and Directors of IIMs to schedule a retest of the exam for the candidates who could not appear for the examination due to Covid-19 pandemic.

BACKGROUND OF THE PETITION

The petitioner is a candidate who had applied for Common Admission Test 2020, a qualifying examination for admissions into various courses conducted by IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) across the Country. The exam for the year 2020 was scheduled to take place on 29.11.2020.

The grievance of the petitioner was that due to the reason of his mother getting positive for Covid-19 on 22.11.2020, he could not appear for the said examination as he had to undergo the mandatory quarantine period as advised by the Health Service Department of State of Kerela. Later it was found that even the petitioner was found to be positive for Covid-19 on 27.11.2020.

When the fact of her mother getting positive came to his notice, the petitioner wrote an email to the competent authority conducting examination to let him know the particulars of the protocol to be followed by him in order to sit for the examination. A reply was received by the authority that he could appear for the exam as he was not identified as the potential carrier of the virus.

After the petitioner was also found positive for the virus, the requested the authority by mail to let him know about the protocol to which there was no response received. Therefore, he couldn't sit for the examination on the date of exam.

According to the petitioner, it was obligatory on the part of the competent authority to make necessary arrangements to enable him and other similarly placed candidates to appear for the test even after being covid positive. It was also the argument of the petitioner the authority is bound to conduct another session of test for the covid positive students for them to secure admissions in IIMs.

Therefore, the prayer of the petitioner was to seek directions to the respondents to conduct another session of CAT 2020 examination for the candidates who could not appear on the date of exam due to the reason of being positive for Covid-19.

ISSUES OF THE CASE

  • Whether it was obligatory for the competent authority to make necessary arrangements to enable the petitioner and other similarly placed candidates to appear for the test?
  • (2) Whether the petitioner is entitled to a direction to the respondents concerned to conduct an additional session of the test?

OBSERVATION OF THE COURT

Argument of the Petitioner

The petitioner heavily relied on the case of Rakesh Kumar Agarwalla & Ors. v. NLSIU,Bengaluru & Ors. (2020) where an interim order was passed by the Supreme Court directing the competent authority of the university to provide facilities for candidates who were in isolation in the wake of covid-19 pandemic allowing such students to appear for CLAT 2020.

The petitioner therefore submitted that the inaction on the part of competent authority for not making any appropriate arrangements for the petitioner in the present case was unfair and arbitrary. Due to this reason, the authority is obligated to conduct another session of exam.

Argument of the Respondents

It was argued by the counsel appearing on behalf of the competent authority that in view of the peculiar and serious situation created by Covid-19 pandemic, it was impossible for the authorities to conduct another session for the same exam again. It was also argued that a considerable amount of time will be required by the authority to prepare question papers for another session and that it would not be possible for the authorities to now normalize the score of such candidates.

The counsel for the Union of India submitted that a same relief was prayed by candidates in JEE Examinations 2020 wherein the Delhi HC vide judgment W.P.(C)No.7444 of 2020 declined to give them the relief for conducting the examination again for covid positive candidates.

On this, the Court had asked the Union of India about the stand of the Central Govt about people suffering from covid to remain in isolation. The reply accorded by the counsel was that alternative arrangements have not been made for now to enable such candidates to appear for the examinations.

Order of the Court

The Court while analyzing the submissions made on behalf of the competent authority observed that there was no reason to doubt the correctness of the reasons given for the non conduct of examination via a second session.

"Even if it is found that it was obligatory for the competent authority to make necessary arrangements to enable the petitioner and other similarly placed candidates to appear for the test, the relief claimed by the petitioner cannot be granted." The court held.

The Court also took note of the fact that nearly 1.9 lakh candidates appeared for the test conducted on 29.11.2020 and finally held that:

"Merely for the reason that the petitioner could not participate in the test on account of reasons not attributable to him, according to me, this court would not be justified in ordering the test to be conducted afresh, as for conducting the test afresh, a new set of question papers are to be prepared, and as noted, the same will take considerable time in addition to the efforts to be put in by large number of persons and even if such a course is adopted, the courses cannot be conducted by the institutes as scheduled by them now, which would adversely affect the career prospects of large number of candidates who have appeared for the test."

Case Name: Susruth K. v. Union of India & Ors. W.P. CIVIL No. 27637 of 2020

Judgment Dated: 07.01.2021

Click Here To Download Judgment

[Read Judgment]




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