29 May 2023 11:12 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a challenge against a rule requiring JEE Advanced candidates to have at least 75 per cent aggregate marks in Class XII (or equivalent) Board examination, which was waived during the COVID-19 pandemic but subsequently revived. A bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and KV Viswanathan was hearing a plea challenging an eligibility criterion for taking...
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a challenge against a rule requiring JEE Advanced candidates to have at least 75 per cent aggregate marks in Class XII (or equivalent) Board examination, which was waived during the COVID-19 pandemic but subsequently revived.
A bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and KV Viswanathan was hearing a plea challenging an eligibility criterion for taking the Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced), through which admission to various undergraduate programmes across Indian Institutes of Technology are carried out. The impugned criterion required candidates to have secured a minimum of 75 per cent in the aggregate in their Class XII (or equivalent) Board examination.
“2016, 2017, 2018…This condition has always been there that students must have secured 75 per cent,” Justice Dhulia pointed out, before asking, “Why, then, should we interfere?”
The counsel for the petitioners alleged that their fundamental rights were violated due to the decision of the National Testing Agency – a government organisation responsible for conducting the entrance examination – to not extend the waiver of the academic performance-related criteria after the coronavirus pandemic. He told the bench:
“This condition was waived during COVID-19. During that time, the National Testing Agency allowed students to take the JEE Advanced examination without the assessment in Class XII. These students who were allowed during the pandemic are not being permitted to take the examination because this condition is brought back. Some of these students have obtained more than 98.8 per cent in JEE Mains.”
“Why don’t you approach the high court?” asked Justice Dhulia. This would have pan-India implications, the counsel responded. “First, you think about the petitioners whom you are representing,” the judge shot back.
The counsel attempted to convince the bench again, by saying:
“There are thousands of students all over India. So many of them have approached me. They have performed exceedingly well in JEE Mains but not allowed to take the subsequent examination because this condition is revived. These are meritorious students.”
However, the bench refused to be swayed by the counsel’s impassioned submissions. Justice Dhulia said, “This is not a matter we want to get into.” “These are education matters. We have to defer to the experts,” Justice Viswanathan added.
Besides this, the bench also refused to entertain an intervention application filed on behalf of a candidate who had secured 10 marks short of 75 per cent in the aggregate but scored 92 per cent in JEE Mains. Although the counsel vehemently assailed the policy as ‘discriminatory’ and violative of the fundamental rights of the intervenor, the bench declined to grant her relief, noting that the information bulletin published by the organising institution had categorically outlined the academic performance criteria.
Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court had also rejected a similar plea.
Chandan Kumar & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. | Writ Petition (Civil) No. 539 of 2023