Six opposition-ruled states have filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its decision allowing the central government to hold the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) in September despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The petition has been filed by ministers from West Bengal (Moloy Ghatak), Jharkhand (Rameshwar Oraon), Rajasthan (Raghu Sharma), Chhattisgarh (Amarjeet Bhagat), Punjab (BS Sidhu) and Maharashtra (Uday Ravindra Sawant). The plea has been filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes.
On August 17, the top court had refused to interfere with the conduct of medical and engineering entrance exams, NEET and JEE, scheduled to take place in September saying that life must go on and students can't lose a precious year due to the pandemic.
The apex court had dismissed a plea by one Sayantan Biswas seeking direction to National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts both the NEET and JEE exams, to postpone them and said that there was "absolutely" no merit in the plea.
The decision has been widely opposed by students, who have petitioned the government to postpone the exams by two months to ensure there are adequate number of centres and that the exams are not held during the peak of the pandemic. Apart from the virus, floods in several states have also led to calls for postponement.
The Centre has said it decided to hold the exams based on feedback from parents and students, who do not want to lose the academic year. The National Testing Agency that conducts key entrance exams in the country has also backed the Centre's decision as an attempt "to save one academic year".
Many students feel that the government isn’t really listening to their voices. The education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal in a recent interview said that despite the protests against NEET, 17 lakh admit cards had been downloaded, which, he said, meant that students wanted exams at any cost.
Over 25 lakh students are to take the tests—the medical entrance exam NEET and the engineering entrance exam JEE (mains) over the next few days.
In an organised show of protest against holding these exams amid Covid-19 outbreak, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee had called for a meeting of opposition-ruled states leaders on August 26.
During the meeting, CM Mamata Banerjee had suggested approaching the Supreme Court again for postponing the exams owing to the prevailing Covid-19 situation.