NEET on schedule as SC refuses to intervene

The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to the undergraduate medical course will be held on schedule on September 13, with the Supreme Court on Wednesday refusing to intervene in various petitions seeking its postponement to providing facilities for candidates.

One of the petitions, represented by advocate Shoeb Alam, even sought the use of admit cards as curfew passes in the COVID-19 containment zones. He said a “slight nudge” from the court would go a long way to ensure the safety of lakhs of candidates across the country.

Senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi urged the court to postpone the exam, saying the virus infection count was steadily climbing and had reached 90,000 a day.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar said States such as Bihar had only two exam centres. Aspirants had to journey miles, exposing themselves and others to infection.

But the court said it would not be possible for the authorities to conduct NEET, which requires to be held simultaneously across the country, on different dates in different States.

‘Precautions taken’

“The authorities have taken all precautions,” the Bench said.

The court reasoned that problems would not die by changing dates. Whatever date was fixed, there might be some difficulty.

Mr. Alam said his petitioner was not seeking a quashing of the NEET but only for facilities to be provided to students.

Mr. Datar sought a postponement by three weeks, but the court declined.

The court recently heard a review plea filed jointly by Ministers from six non-BJP-ruled States against the conduct of the JEE Mains and the NEET-UG amid the pandemic. The JEE was conducted between September 1 and 6.

On August 17, the court refused to entertain a petition by students to postpone the NEET and the JEE citing the pandemic after recording the exam authorities’ assurance that all necessary precautions will be taken to keep safe the candidates, who run into lakhs.

“Education should be opened up. COVID-19 may continue for a year more. Are you going to wait for another year. Do you know what is the loss to the country and the career peril to the students?” the court had asked the petitioners.