NEET 2021 will not be postponed: Supreme Court junks plea
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking the deferment of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) UG 2021 and denied passing any order in favor of the petitioner students. With this, the Court denied interfering in the exam date as it would cause "pain and strain" to around 1.6 million NEET candidates.
However, the Court has granted liberty to the students to make representation to the competent authority for their demand for deferment of the NEET exam which is scheduled on September 12 and close to the dates of CBSE Private, Patracahr, and Compartment exams for Class 12.
Refusing to entertain the plea in the courtroom and denying causing inconvenience to students by meddling in the examination schedule, the bench comprising of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice CT Ravikumar noted, "we are neither impressed nor willing to show any indulgence to the petitioners or to allow them to invoke remedy under Article 32 of the Constitution of India."
"If the petitioners so desire, are free to make representation(s) to the competent authority who may consider the representation(s) on its own merits and in accordance with law at the earliest," further clarified the Apex Court order after it denied creating any uncertainty in the minds of the candidates by interfering in the exam date.
Medical Dialogues had recently reported that several NEET candidates have been demanding the deferment of the exam for some time now and they even started trending hashtags such as #delayNEETUG, #postponeneetUG2021tilloctober etc.
The students pointed out on Twitter how the exam was clashing with several other examination dates such as CBSE private and improvement and ICAR.
CBSE Class 12 improvement and compartment exams have been scheduled to be held between August 25 and September 15. In fact, the math paper is just the day after the date for NEET UG. Besides, the dates for ICAR AIEEA, the national-level undergraduate entrance exam for BSc courses, OJEE 2021, Maharashtra CET 2021 are also close to NEET UG.
However, the National Testing Agency (NTA) and the Union Education Ministry recently confirmed that the exam date is not going to change and later the few students approached the Apex Court seeking relief.
In the plea filed through Advocate Sumanth Nookala, the petition claimed that holding the NEET UG 2021 exam on September 12 is manifestly arbitrary and it violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Thus, the counsel for the petitioners requested so that the public notice which set the date for NEET UG 2021 on September 12 gets quashed.
However, during the previous hearing NTA had informed the Court that non-declaration of results wouldn't stop candidates from appearing in the examination and the results would only be necessary during the counseling.
As per the latest media report by Live Law, during the hearing of the case on Monday, the counsel for the petitioners Advocate Shoeb Alam sought deferment of the examination saying that there's broad overlapping of dates. When the Bench observed that only 1% candidates are appearing for the improvisation, the counsel for the petitioners submitted that the number is around 25,000 students.
"I'm only asking for simple deferment. I'm not asking for cancellation, only a short accommodation" Alam stated.
"These students after one and a half years will appear in these pen and paper exams. A barrage of exams are taking place in small window of 1 week- 15 days" he further added.
He also referred to the change in the pattern of the NEET exam this year and pointed out that earlier the students had to answer 180 questions within 180 minutes. However, now the total number of questions is 200 and the students need to go through all the questions, choose which ones to answer within the same time limit.
However, the bench still expressed its disinclination to entertain the matter and then the counsel for the petitioner pointed out that JEE Session 4 exam has also been adjourned by the authorities.
Responding to this, the bench noted that if the authorities are deferring the exam on their own they can do it but the court cannot compel them for doing the same.
"These students should burn the midnight oil and prepare. How much can we intervene as a court? Our indulgence means we are causing strain and pain to so many students. If authority wants to do on its own it's for them to decide. Please don't use our platform to push them", the bench was quoted saying orally by Live Law.
Meanwhile, The Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta also pointed out before the Apex Court that elaborate preparations have already been made and the students must have made their travel arrangements as well.
Noting the logistical challenges of planning and arranging the examination centre the Court was quoted saying by Hindustan Times, "Let the exam go on. This will amount to too much of meddling with education. We should now redefine the scope of our judicial review. Because of inconvenience of some, 16 lakh students should not suffer...."
At this point, the counsel for the petitioners requested the bench to at least allow the petitioners to make a representation before the competent authorities.
Thus, the bench dismissed the plea by granting the only relief of allowing the petitioners to make a representation.
"If the petitioners so desire, are free to make representation(s) to the competent authority who may consider the representation(s) on its own merits and in accordance with law at the earliest," noted the bench.
"Beyond this, we do not wish to mention contention of the petitioners, while making it clear that we have not expressed any opinion either way on the several points which were canvassed across the Bar or articulated in the memo of writ petition, but the competent authority may take appropriate decision in accordance with law," clarified the top court.
To read the Apex Court order, click on the link below.