The Karnataka High Court is hearing three petitions opposing the conduct of the KCET amid the COVID-19 pandemic
The Karnataka High Court is hearing three petitions opposing the conduct of the KCET amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Litigation News

BREAKING: Karnataka High Court rejects interim prayer to postpone Karnataka CET [Day 2 - LIVE UPDATES]

Yesterday, the Court had asked the State to reconsider whether it wants to conduct the KCET as has been scheduled for July 30-31. Today the State submitted that it had decided to go ahead with the exam as scheduled.

Bar & Bench

Yesterday, the Court had asked the State to reconsider whether it wants to conduct the Karnataka Common Entrance Test (KCET) as has been scheduled for July 30-31. The State was asked to submit its decision today.

The reasons that had prompted the Court to pass the above order included the large spike of COVID-19 cases in the state, the inability of persons to step out of containment zones, lack of provision for public transport etc.

As per media reports as of yesterday, there were 16,005 containment zones in Bangalore alone.

In yesterday's hearing AAG Dhyan Chinnappa had argued that there will be no exams in Containment zones and students will be placed in different rooms.

AAG Dhyan Chinnappa informs Bar & Bench that the Karnataka Government is going ahead with Karnataka CET.

Speaking to Bar & Bench, Deputy Chief Minister Aswathnarayan has also confirmed this development.

As Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka is unavailable, a Division Bench comprising of Justices Aravind Kumar and MI Arun will hear the matter shortly.

The Bench hearing the pleas against the conduct of KCET today
The Bench hearing the pleas against the conduct of KCET today

The Bench is yet to assemble.

Bench begins hearing.

AAG Dhyan Chinnappa, appearing for the State Government, submits the decision of the State to go ahead with KCET exam on the scheduled dates.

Bench goes through the submissions of the State.

Advocate Abdullah Manan Khan: I have not received the memo copy.

Senior Advocate Ponnanna: I have received it.

Advocate Khan: I have not received it. I am checking my phone now. I will take it from Senior Advocate Ponnanna.

Submissions of the State Government:

  • The number of Exam Centres has been increased from 421 to 491

  • SSLC Exam was conducted successfully amid the pandemic with 8 lakhs students

  • SSLC and PUC exams are held in line with guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry

Senior Advocate Ponnanna: SOP for conducting KCET for COVID students was issued on May 17. That time, the situation in the state was quite different.

Cases have crossed 1 lakh now. In the city, almost 50,000 cases now.

On the date of the notification, cases were considerably less.

Senior Advocate  AS Ponnanna
Senior Advocate AS Ponnanna

Environment is not fit enough to conduct an exam, milord, Ponnanna submits.

State submits that 1,881 students are coming from outside Karnataka. 1,300 students are coming to the Bangalore centres.

Another Petitioner Advocate submits that containment zones are changing every day.

10,978 containment zones are there at present, they are only increasing by the day, Ponnanna. One containment zone (in Bangalore west) has about 12,150 households, he adds.

Bench: We will not go ward wise.

Ponnanna: I am not on that. In containment zones, they cannot move in and out. Only essential activities are allowed there.

Bench: How many students are there in containment zones? We cannot presume.

SSLC exams was conducted and 8 lakh students wrote the exams.

Ponnanna refers to yesterday's decision by High Court. He says that the High Court had asked the Government to reconsider its decision, it is a positive direction.

You cannot dilute containment zones. You cannot put the health of the public at risk. It is violative of Articles 14 and 21, Ponnanna.

State has said that it is going to dilute quarantine rules as well. The State will be treating students from other states as "business travellers". It is not permissible for the State Government to do this and be arbitrary, Ponnanna.

Bench: When is NEET?

Ponnanna: JEE, NEET, AIEEE have all been postponed. NEET is postponed from July 27 to September 13.

Even COVID-19 students are permitted to write the exam. They are supposed to give a "Risk Consent". But the format is not mentioned.

Bench: Have other states conducted the exam?

Except Kerala, no other State conducted the exam, Ponnanna. He adds that colleges, schools are all functioning virtually. Exams also have been postponed.

This is not a conducive environment to conduct exam, Ponnanna.

Petitioner Advocate Anil Kumar begins his set of pleadings.

Kumar: Lockdown is still continuing Containment Zones. State Goverment cannot go against Central Government order.

Bench: Find out total number of containment zones, district wise and Taluka wise.

Kumar: State Govt has not done any exercise to find out number of students in Containments Zones. 

Kumar refers to an email by a student whose says that she is COVID-19 (positive).

Bench: Check the last line, it says "we have not been able to study due to COVID-19."

Kumar: There are many students with COVID-19, but there is no helpline or portal for such students.

Kumar: First Central exam happens, only then State exams is conducted. For SSLC, a second opportunity is provided. For KCET, it is not provided.

Bench: Is it possible to give second chance?

Kumar: May not be possible. Therefore, State has to be more cautious.

AAG Chinnappa: over 1 Lakh students have downloaded the hall ticket and are writing the exam.

AAG Dhyan Chinnappa
AAG Dhyan Chinnappa

Bench: Downloaded is correct, we don't know about writing the exam.

AAG Chinnappa: We will only know tomorrow.

Kumar: Many students are coming from far off places, lunch is not provided. COVID students have to come in their own ambulances. They have to make their own arrangements. Many patients may not be able to get ambulances. If one person gets COVID now, whom should he contact?

Kumar: State SOP only deals with Exam on July 30 and 31, it does not deal with August 1 exam.

497 rooms are not enough as maximum 24 students will be permitted in each room. State has to clarify whether they have more rooms. If we divide it, approx 8,300 will have to be provided.

We are not asking for cancellation, let them postpone it. This has been done in a hurry, Kumar

Advocate Manan Khan makes his submissions.

Khan: Thermal screening is not sufficient. Lot of undetected cases will also be there in the centres. Certain positive cases are missing from hospitals, we have no information about them.

Khan: It has also been mentioned that an ink pad will be present. Thumb impression of students are taken. This will also facilitate spread of COVID

Further Khan informs that, when exam was conducted in Kerala, students were infected of COVID.

There is twitter trend to postpone KCET. About 52,000 students have retweeted, Khan

Khan: CET is a career defining exam, not like SSLC.

An Advocate wishing to intervene, seeks permission to make a submission. 11,000 students have been deprived of hall ticket due to technical reason.

Bench: We are on the larger issue.

Bench turns to AAG Chinnappa

Bench: Instead of Court passing an order, it thought the wisdom of the State Government would prevail. If anyone misses the exam, will you give them another window?

Chinnappa: That decision has not been taken.

Bench: Make a categorical statement.

Chinnappa: Only 40 students writing the exam have covid.

Bench: How do you know?

Bench: Why should students come with a doctor certificate? What is this? We are not satisfied with your SOPs. What is the hurry for you? Even NEET has been postponed.

AAG Chinnappa faces some connectivity issue.

Bench: From May 13, till now, there has been tremendous change in COVID situation. Can we put lives of young boys and girls in danger?

Bench: Suppose one student from another state/district runs temperature, where will he/she stay? Who will bring such persons from that district to Bangalore?

Bench: What is this Risk consent? What is the format, where is it uploaded, from where should students get it?

Bench: Which medical practitioner will give a certificate to covid patient saying that he is fit to write exam? There are no clinics now.

Bench: Containment zones are changing on a daily basis. What if they say that student is permitted to enter centre, but not his father or mother? That is why this Court thought it would be fit for you to take a decision.

AAG Chinnappa reads the State submissions. One room is kept open for students whose temperatures may arise, he submits.

Bench: Did you give second chance for SSLC students?

Chinnappa: Yes, Milord. But I am instructed to say that since CET is a competitive exam, a second chance may not be possible

Chinnappa submits that transportation will be provided for CET students, Centres will be sanitized, COVID positive students will be kept in separate room, containment zones students will also be taken care of, students from other states will be treated as "business travellers."

Bench: How will you identify COVID positive students?

Chinnappa: First, they have to register in Karnataka Examination Authority. Then an ambulance will transport them to designated exam center.

Bench: What if they were declared COVID positive yesterday? Then what if they are denied saying that they did not register earlier?

Bench: Court yesterday felt that you could come up with something better.

Bench: Can exam be conducted in one single day? Why not?

AAG Chinappa concludes his submissions.

Advocate Kumar informs that as per UGC guidelines, there is a provision of special chance.

Bench: What injury will be caused to you if KCET is postponed? Is there any irreparable/disproportionate financial damage?

AAG: Financial injury is there. All facilities have been set up, we are in a state of preparedness. Students are also mentally prepared to write exams now.

AAG Chinnappa: Milord, sorry if your Lordships thought that I was making a face, I would never do that

Bench: Don't take it seriously. We also make certainly observations. Dhyan, you have been doing a wonderful job, you may succeed or not succeed, that's a different thing.

Bench has risen for a 15 minute break.

The Division Bench is yet to resume the session.

Court officer has informed that the Bench is likely to assemble in 10 mins to pronounce order.

Bench re-assembles.

Bench poses two questions to State.

  • What happens if COVID positive students are unable to produce certificate from the medical practitioner saying he/she is fit to write exam?

  • What happens if risk consent is not there?

Bench: Are you ready to provide transportation from containment zones to candidates?

AAG Chinnappa: Have made buses available throughout all wards. If we receive specific requests, we will cater to it.

Petitioner Advocate says that helplines are not working. One positive student has not even got the hall ticket. There is no portal for such students. Let them give some active portal, he adds.

Hall tickets will serve as passes to move out of containment zones, State government clarifies

Bench: Inform your police. No student should be prevented from attending the exam.

ORDER

BENCH: Examination cannot be stalled. All students who come to give examination should be allowed to write CET. The Court is only looking at the decision making process and not the decision itself.

Interim prayer stands rejected.

BREAKING: Karnataka High Court rejects interim prayer to postpone Karnataka CET, Examination to happen as per schedule.

Bench clarifies that on no ground, should a student be denied the opportunity to write exam.

Authorities should provide transport to students on case to case basis and not just to COVID positive students: Bench

High Court directs SOP should be uploaded in Karnataka Examination Authority's web portal before 8pm, today.

Bench says that order will be uploaded on the Karnataka High Court website in 15 mins.

Hearing comes to an end. Bench rises.

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