The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the State Government to reconsider the decision to hold Karnataka Common Entrance Test(KCET) amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in the state.
The KCET was proposed to be held on July 30 and 31, as per a notification issued by the government on May 13.
Taking note of the concerns raised by the petitioners, who challenged the government decision, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Sreenivas Oka observed :
"During the last two weeks, every day around 5,000 positive cases are detected in the state and around 1500 cases were reported daily from Bengaluru. There are more than 5000 containment zones in Bengaluru. The SOP of government says that no one is allowed to leave Containment Zones. Moreover, Public transport will not be available too. There is a possibility of students missing out on the exam".
In the light of these factors, the bench directed the State to reconsider the question of holding the CET. The state must place its decision on record before the Court tomorrow at 2.30 pm.
"We are sure that the state will take into consideration several aspects and some students missing the exams due to prevailing conditions", the bench observed.
The Court passed the order in three writ petitions challenging the decision to hold CET exams.
The writ petitions were filed by: 1) Group of Students and NSUI 2) Adv Pradeep 3) Adv Abdullah Mannan Khan.
While the bench observed that the petitions approached the Court late, at the '11th hour', to challenge the decision taken in May, it passed the order taking note of the drastic situation caused by the pandemic.
"The situation has drastically changed after May 13", the Court said.
The Court asked Additional Advocate General, Dhyan Chinnappa, "how the exams could be held in containment zones?".
The AAG submitted that the State has held SSLC exams, and that a Standard Operating Procedure in place.
The bench, however, highlighted the drastic rise in COVID-19 cases and urged the State to reconsider the decision.
The petitioners submitted that conducting the exams under "such dreadful conditions" was arbitrary and risky to the health and safety of students, leading to violation of fundamental rights under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
The petitioners also highlighted that students in containment zones will face difficulties in attending the examination, resulting in denial of equal opportunities to the student community, which is a violation of the equality clause under Article 14 of the Constitution.