Two students have approached the Supreme Court vide a letter petition to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde seeking postponement of National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Exams (JEE) on humanitarian grounds in light of the pandemic situation.
The letter petition has been written by a third-year law student and a class 12 student, address to to CJI Bobde seeking his intervention to quash the decision of the Government of India to hold the NEET and JEE examination in September as conducting of examinations during this crisis is in clear violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.
"Article 21 of the Constitution gives a right to life to all citizens of India meaning therein that the State cannot take any action or decision which would endanger the life and health of a citizen or will coerce/force any citizen to endanger his/her life and health"
Urging the top court to intervene urgently, the students have drawn its attention to dangers of the emerging virus, adding that "covid19 is emerging as one of the most dangerous pandemics in human memory and added that hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions have been infected worldwide. It said even if they survive they will face long terms consequences of this disease".
The letter states that even though courts, parliament, most legislative assemblies and all academic institutions are close and most government and private colleges are working at 50% capacity, 17-18 year old students are being forced to endanger their lives to appear in the entrance examinations.
"So many precautions are being taken to protect the lives of adult citizens of India which is a very welcome step. However, to the utter shock of all students, their lives are being considered to be less valuable than the lives of these VIPs" the letter reads.
Further to this, the students have highlighted the practical difficulties associated with conduction of examinations in the ongoing pandemic situation such as traveling long distances in public transport, which will leave them a greater risk of exposure. It is also highlighted in the letter that the decision is "weighed heavily against students coming from underprivileged sections" due to the lack of access to private transport, face masks etc.
"Many students live far from the examination centres and will have to travel large distances in public transport to appear in the examinations, which will expose them to great risk of getting infected. AIIMs has recommended that wearing a mask for more than 2.5 hours at a stretch is unsafe for any person, but even then these minor children are expected to wear a mask and give the entrance examinations for long hours while wearing a mask," it added.
Calling upon the "Chief Priest" of the "Temple of Justice", i.e. the CJI of Supreme Court to intervene and protect the fundamental rights of students, the letter petition seeks quashing of the decision to hold NEET-JEE Exams.
"We feel and believe that there is nothing more precious than human lives, more when the lives in question are those of young and innocent children, that why we have gathered the courage to write to you Sir," they state.
The letter has been written by Aditya Dubey & Aman Banks.
On August 17, a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari had dismissed the writ petition "Sayantan Biswas & Ors. vs. National Testing Agency (NTA) & Ors" observing :
"We find that there is absolutely no justification in the prayer made for postponement of the examination in question relating to NEET UG-2020 as well as JEE (Main) April, 2020. In our opinion, though there is pandemic situation, but ultimately life has to go and the career of the students cannot be put on peril for long and full academic year cannot be wasted".