SC to hear on Friday 6 States’ plea on JEE, NEET

Ministers’ petition says lakhs of students should not fall prey to Centre’s ‘knee-jerk’ and ‘haphazard’ plans

A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice Ashok Bhushan is scheduled to hear on Friday a petition filed jointly by Ministers from six non-BJP-ruled States against the conduct of the JEE Mains and the NEET-UG amid the pandemic.

They have sought a review of the court order on August 17 refusing to entertain a petition by students to postpone the NEET and the JEE.

They said lakhs of students should not fall prey to the Centre’s “knee-jerk” and “haphazard” plans, which would prove “worse than the disease itself”.

The other judges on the Bench are Justices B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) had notified the JEE between September 1 to 9. The NEET for medical seats are scheduled for September 13. The JEE Mains is slated to be conducted over 660 exam centres, with 9.53 lakh students taking it. The NEET will see 15.97 lakh students in 3,843 centres across the country.

Ministers Moloy Ghatak of West Bengal, Dr. Rameshwar Oraon from Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh’s Amarjeet Bhagat, Maharashtra’s Uday Ravindra Samant and Raghu Sharma and Balbir Singh Sidhu of Rajasthan and Punjab respectively had moved the Supreme Court through lawyer Sunil Fernandes.

The petition was filed shortly after a meeting was held among Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and six Chief Ministers of non-BJP States.

‘Dates fixed hurriedly’

The Ministers said the intervening months from April to September 2020 were characterised by inaction, confusion, lethargy and inertia on the part of the government. The Centre had suddenly woken up to hurriedly fix the exam dates, realising that its inertia would cost lakhs of students their career, the petition said.

The situation was grave enough to recall or postpone the exams, the Ministers stated.

On August 17, a Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra, who retired on September 2, refused to delay the exams, saying, “COVID-19 may continue for a year more… Are you going to wait for another year?”

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