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The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari noted that there was no merit in the plea. The matter was heard in-chambers.
The Supreme Court today rejected the review petition filed by six Cabinet Ministers from opposition-ruled states against its August 17 order declining to postpone the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the Join Entrance Exams (JEE Mains) amid the COVID-19 pandemic [Moloy Ghatak & Ors v. National Testing Agency & Ors].
The news was confirmed by sources in the Registry.
The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari noted that there was no merit in the plea, and thus dismissed it.
The review plea was heard in-chambers.
The plea has been filed by six ministers from the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Maharashtra.
Later, a minister from Puducherry also filed a plea seeking review.
Following the August 17 order of the Supreme Court, the National Testing Agency (NTA) on August 25 notified that these entrance exams would be conducted as per the revised schedule, with the NEET taking place on September 13 and the JEE being held from September 1-6.
The review petitioners had asserted that the August 17 ruling and the NTA's decision to conduct these exams amid the pandemic is flawed on the following broad contentions:
It fails to secure the safety, security and right to life of the student- candidates appearing for the NEET/JEE exams.
It has ignored the teething logistical difficulties in conducting the examinations on the proposed dates.
It has failed to balance the competing but equally important aspects of conducting the examination and securing the safety of the students.
It fails to ensure that mandatory safeguards are put in place during the conduct of the examinations.
The plea highlights that 25 lakh students will cumulatively appear for the two exams, even as India records over 3.31 million COVID-19 cases.
With JEE being proposed to be conducted in over 660 exam centres for 9.53 lakh students, roughly 1,443 students will be writing the exam per JEE centre, the plea notes.
The petitioners have submitted that while the Centre had adequate time to ensure the safe and successful conduct of the examinations, "the intervening months from April to September 2020 were characterised by inaction, confusion, lethargy and inertia."
Referring to the Supreme Court's observation in its August 17 order that "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", the review petitioners arguex,
"The advice of “Life Must Go On” may have very sound philosophical underpinnings but cannot be a substitute for valid legal reasoning and logical analysis of the various aspects involved in the conduct of the NEET UG and JEE exams."
The petition was filed by:
Moloy Ghatak, leader of the Trinamool Congress Party from West Bengal, Minister-in-Charge, Department of Labour & E.S.I. (MB) Scheme and Departments of Law & Judicial, Government
Dr Rameshwar Oraon, Indian National Congress leader from Jharkhand, Cabinet Minister of Finance, Government of Jharkhand.
Dr Raghu Sharma, Indian National Congress leader from Rajasthan, Cabinet Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Rajasthan.
Amarjeet Bhagat, Indian National Congress leader from Chhattisgarh, Minister of Food, Civil supplies, Culture, Planning, Economics & Statistics, Government of Chhattisgarh.
Balbir Singh Sidhu, Indian National Congress leader from Punjab, Cabinet Minister Health and Family Welfare & Labour, Punjab.
Uday Ravindra Samant, Shiv Sena leader from Maharashtra, Minister of Higher and Technical Education, Government of Maharashtra.
The petition had been filed in their individual capacities.