The JEE started on September 1 and the NEET exam is to be held on September 13. (File)
The Supreme Court today rejected for the second time a request to postpone the engineering and medical exams JEE (Joint Entrance Exam) and NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) on account of the coronavirus crisis. This time, six opposition-ruled states had asked the court to review its earlier order and put off the exams for the safety of lakhs of students.
There is no merit in the petition, Justices Ashok Bhushan, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari said after considering it in their chambers. "No case is made out for reconsidering our earlier decision," said the top court.
The Supreme Court had on August 17 rejected a similar request by 11 students from 11 states.
Maharashtra, Bengal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Puducherry had decided to request the court to reconsider its decision in the interest of students.
The states 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.
They had asked for the exams to be deferred "in a manner that achieves the twin objectives of ensuring that the academic year of the students is not wasted and their health and safety is not compromised."
JEE started on September 1 and will continue till September 6 and the NEET exam is to be held on September 13. The state governments that petitioned the court, like Bengal, claim that lakhs of students were unable to take the exam.
In its earlier order, the Supreme Court had refused to interfere with the medical and engineering entrance exams saying "life must go on" and "students can't lose a precious year due to the pandemic".
The states' petition called that order "cryptic, non-speaking" and one that failed to address various aspects and complexities involved in a matter of this magnitude. The review petition said the mere fact that lakhs of students have registered for the exam - an argument frequently put up by the central government -- is not indicative of their consent or their willingness or their desire to attend physical exams.
"It is submitted that if the (August 17 order) is not reviewed then grave and irreparable harm and injury would befall on the student community of our country and not only will the health, welfare and safety of the students/candidates appearing for the NEET/JEE examinations would stand imperiled but also the public health at large would be in severe jeopardy in these COVID-19 pandemic times," the plea said.