New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed petitions for the review of its August 17 order to reject pleas for the postponement of NEET-JEE exams slated to be held in September against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari said: "Applications seeking permission to file the 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 review pleas were filed by six Ministers of opposition-ruled West Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
The petitioners contended that they had moved the court to "secure the safety, security, and right to life of the students appearing in NEET/JEE exams".
The petitioners argued that the top court had ignored logistical difficulties in conducting the examinations on the fixed dates.
"Failed to balance the competing but equally important aspects of conducting the examinations and securing the safety of the students. Failed to ensure that mandatory safeguards are put in place during the conduct of the examinations," said the petitioners while challenging the August 17 order.
"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 petitioners argued.
They said the apex court failed to appreciate that the Centre had adequate time to establish at least one centre for every district for NEET (UG) and JEE (Mains) rather than having several centres in one district.
"Having at least one centre per district would have minimised the inter-district, long travel of students and thereby reduced the chances of Covid-19 spread," they argued.
The petitioners contended that if the August 17 order was not reviewed, grave and irreparable harm and injury would befall the student community of the country and impact the health, welfare and safety of the candidates appearing for the NEET/JEE examinations.
The petitioners were West Bengal Labour and Law Minister Moloy Ghatak, Jharkhand Finance Minister Rameshwar Oraon, Rajasthan Health and Family Welfare Minister Raghu Sharma, Chhattisgarh Food and Civil Supplies Minister Amarjeet Bhagat, Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, and Maharashtra Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Ravindra Samant.
"With regards to the second reason of losing a year, it is most respectfully submitted that this would tantamount to putting the cart before the horse, as the submissions hereinabove have revealed. The review petitioners too do not desire for the students to lose an academic year, but wish to balance their health, safety, and security and that of their family with no loss of the current academic year," said the petitioners.