NEET, JEE row: Six states file review plea in SC
In a new development pertaining to the raging row around JEE, NEET examinations, ministers from six non-BJP-governed states filed a review plea in Supreme Court challenging the earlier order, that allowed the competitive tests to take place on schedule, despite worsening coronavirus situation. The petitioners told SC that in its August 17 order it didn't consider safety or logistical difficulties. Here are more details.
The National Testing Agency (NTA) announced that JEE and NEET exams will be held from September 1-6 and September 13 respectively, much to many students' displeasure who wanted exams to be deferred. This week, several opposition parties lent support to students, saying it was draconian of Centre to hold exams amid coronavirus threat. However, the top agency said it won't put students at risk.
With NTA being firm on conducting the tests, saying delaying them would waste a crucial year, states concluded it was best to go to SC with the plea. Moloy Ghatak from West Bengal, Jharkhand's Dr. Rameshwar Oraon, Dr. Raghu Sharma of Rajasthan, Amarjeet Bhagat from Chhattisgarh, Balbir Singh Sidhu from Punjab and Uday Ravindra Samant from Maharashtra asked SC to revisit its order.
Filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, the plea said that if the top court doesn't review its judgment then "grave and irreparable harm and injury will befall the student community of our country." The ministers said not only should the health and safety of aspirants be considered, but SC must note that public health can also be jeopardized if exams are held.
Separately, Congress President Sonia Gandhi released a video statement, imploring the Centre to listen to students. To the aspirants, the 73-year-old said, "My dear students, I feel for you because you are now facing a very difficult situation. The issue of your exams, of when they should be held and where is the most important issue not only for you but your family too."
"You are our future. We depend on you to build a better India. Therefore, if any decision has to be taken regarding your future, it is important that it is being taken with your concurrence. I hope the government listens to you," she went on.
Her son, Rahul, also cornered Centre over the matter saying, "NEET-JEE aspirants' safety should not be compromised due to the failures of the government. The government must listen to all stakeholders and arrive at a consensus." The former Congress President also said he didn't understand why would a government force anything on students. "It's important that the government listens to the students," he said.
As the Centre faced ire, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' said examinations are being conducted after constant pressure from students and teachers. NTA also released guidelines to indicate it is not being indifferent to pertinent issues. Supporting NTA, IIT Kharagpur Director Virendra Tiwari said, "Conducting JEE and NEET is critical, without which admissions cannot be held in institutions like IITs and top medical colleges."