SC reject pleas seeking review of its order which paved way for holding of NEET & JEE exams

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Updated: Sep 04, 2020 5:46 PM

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, which considered the pleas in-chamber, said there was no merit in the review petitions.

The apex court had on August 17 dismissed a plea seeking postponement of JEE (Main) April 2020 and NEET-Undergraduate examinations amid spurt in number of COVID-19 cases.

The Supreme Court Friday dismissed the pleas, including the one filed by ministers of six opposition-ruled states, seeking review of its August 17 order which paved the way for holding NEET and JEE exams.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, which considered the pleas in-chamber, said there was no merit in the review petitions.

The apex court also rejected the applications seeking listing of the review petition in the open court.

Applications seeking permission to file review petitions are allowed. We have carefully gone through the review petitions and the connected papers. We find no merit in the review petitions and the same are accordingly dismissed, the bench said in its order.

National Testing Agency (NTA) which conducts both the exams is holding JEE Main Exams from September 1-6, while NEET exams will be held on September 13.

The review matters in the apex court are usually considered ‘in-chambers’ through circulation of petition among the judges of the bench. The judges then decide ‘in-chambers’ whether there is any merit in the review petition to re-examine the case in open court hearing.

One of the review pleas was filed by ministers from West Bengal (Moloy Ghatak), Jharkhand (Rameshwar Oraon), Rajasthan (Raghu Sharma), Chhattisgarh (Amarjeet Bhagat), Punjab (B S Sidhu) and Maharashtra (Uday Ravindra Sawant).

The apex court had on August 17 dismissed a plea which had sought postponement of JEE (Main) April 2020 and NEET-Undergraduate examinations amid spurt in number of COVID-19 cases.

While refusing to interfere with the conduct of medical and engineering entrance exams, the top court had said that though there is pandemic situation, 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.

In their review plea filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, the ministers of six states — ruled by parties like Congress, TMC, JMM, NCP and Shiv Sena — had claimed that the top court order failed to secure students’ “right to life” and ignored “teething logistical difficulties” to be faced in conducting the exams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plea had said the apex court order fails to satisfy the safety and security concerns of students who have to appear for the exams.

It had said the mere fact that lakhs of students have registered for the exam is not indicative of their consent or their willingness or their desire to attend physical exams.

It had also said the August 17 order is cryptic, non-speaking and does not discuss various aspects and complexities involved in a matter of this magnitude.

The review plea had also said that only two reasons given by the court – life must go on and students should not lose an academic year – do not constitute an authoritative and comprehensive judicial scrutiny of the issue.

It had said that JEE Mains is slated to be conducted over 660 exam centres with 9.53 lakhs students appearing for it, roughly 1,443 students per centre.

Similarly for NEET UG, 15.97 lakhs students will appear in 3,843 centres across the country, nearly 415 students per centre, it had said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had in August assured the top court that all safeguards would be taken while conducting the examinations.

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