SC junks plea of six states; JEE, NEET to continue
The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a plea filed by six non-BJP-governed states, seeking a review of the August 17 order that allowed NEET and JEE exams amid the coronavirus pandemic. A bench, led by Justice Ashok Bhushan, announced, "No case is made out for reconsideration." While JEE exams are underway and will end on September 6, NEET is scheduled for September 13.
Background: Opposition-ruled states, unhappy with Centre's decision, approached SC
After Congress President Sonia Gandhi convened an opposition meet on the controversy around JEE and NEET exams, six ministers, namely Moloy Ghatak (West Bengal), Rameshwar Oraon (Jharkhand), Raghu Sharma (Rajasthan), Amarjeet Bhagat (Chhattisgarh), BS Sidhu (Punjab), and Uday Ravindra Sawant (Maharashtra), filed a review plea. They told SC that if the order is not revisited, "grave irreparable harm would befall the student community."
Education should be opened up, bench commented earlier
On August 17, when the apex court chose against interfering with the dates set by National Testing Agency (NTA), the nodal agency conducting competitive exams in India, it said postponing the tests would adversely impact the careers of students. "Education should be opened up. COVID-19 may continue for a year more. Are you going to wait for another year?" the bench asked.
Students took to social media demanding deferment of exams
To note, the bench which passed the initial order was headed by Justice Arun Mishra, but after he retired this week, Justice Bhushan heard the matter. Disappointed with SC's verdict, students across India came on social media demanding that exams must be deferred. They cited logistical miseries and risk of getting infected as reasons. Those from flood-affected areas said they are facing multiple challenges.
Politicians, including BJP's Subramanian Swamy, supported students
The students earned support from politicians like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Congress' Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka Gandhi; BJP's Subramanian Swamy, and Aaditya Thackeray of Shiv Sena. After Sonia called a meeting, opposition parties judged that knocking on SC's doors was the most feasible option. During the meeting, the parties slammed the Centre's high-handedness and accused it of dismissing genuine concerns.
Facing the heat, Pokhriyal claimed students and parents wanted exams
As the controversy raged, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' said the exams were being held after "immense pressure from students and parents." He said NTA intricately planned the examinations while taking coronavirus-induced precautions into account. In fact, NTA had released extensive guidelines to suggest it is mindful of the health risk. It increased exam centers and the number of shifts to follow social distancing.
Exams started on September 1 with stringent guidelines
This Tuesday, when JEE exams, meant for admission in prestigious government-run engineering colleges, started, students were seen following the set guidelines. On reaching the exam centers, they were given fresh face masks, were screened, and made to sit at a distance from one another. However, some students complained of transport-related problems, saying reaching the designated centers was difficult as some curbs are still existing.