The Supreme Court on Monday refused to defer the NEET examination, scheduled to be held on September 12, stating that it cannot cause pain to 16 lakh students, who have already prepared for it, just for the convenience of a few students.
The Bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy and C.T. Ravikumar held, “The relief claimed is to quash the public notice issued scheduling NEET UG 2021 on September 12. We are not willing to show any indulgence to the petitioners or allow them to invoke any remedy under Article 32. The petitioners are free to make representations to the competent authority, which may consider it on its own merits at the earliest. Beyond this, we make it clear that we haven’t expressed any opinion on several opinions canvassed.”
The petitioners, mostly 18-year-olds, sought re-scheduling of NEET UG21, amid the CBSE Board examination from August 25 to September 15, which were recorded by the Supreme Court, while hearing the matter of Mamta Sharma vs Central Board of Secondary Education & ors, filed in regard with the cancellation of XIIth standard written exams.
Further, the petitioners contended that the schedule of their regional and national entrance exams like COMEDK, ICAR and OJEE, besides some Board being compulsory examination, clashed with the NEET UG21. They made various representation since July, 2021, seeking change of dates.
The petitioners sought re-scheduling of NEET UG21 to any date after September 25, which was denied by the Supreme Court.
“These students should burn the midnight oil and prepare. How much can we intervene as the court? Our indulgence means we are causing strain and pain to 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. All preparations have been done by almost all the students. This cannot be avoided on the plea of some students.
“We should now really redefine our scope of judicial review. Where do we go and to what extent, as we do not want scores of students to suffer in any manner due to deferment of examination, for which they have burnt the midnight oil,” the bench orally noted.
The petitioners submitted that the biggest sufferers of the exam being conducted amid such hectic schedule are the applicants for NEET UG 21 as it’s a national exam held only once a year, with each mark being relevant to determine the career path of the applicants.
The Counsel appearing on behalf of the candidates requested the bench to make a representation, however, the Solicitor General responded to the same saying that the preparation has already been made for the exams and students who live outside India, have already made their travel arrangements.
The petitioner further sought indulgence of the apex court on the following grounds:-
1. The National Testing Agency failed to take into consideration the relevant material and arbitrarily decided to schedule the NEET UG 2021 on September 12 and the said decision-making is manifestly arbitrary and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
2. The Information bulletin released by the agency in March, 2021 stated that the pattern will be of Multiple Choice Questions of 50 questions each for Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology for a total of 180 questions and 720 Marks. Whereas, in July 2021, it was intimated that a total of 200 question and 720 Marks will be the pattern of NEET UG21. The sudden change in the exam pattern just prior to 2 months before exam has caused stress among students as they need some more time to adapt to the new exam pattern.
3. Covid-19 second wave impacted many people across the country. Many applicants were infected and needed more time to prepare for an exam like NEET UG21.
4. Many students are below the age of 18 years and they are not being vaccinated yet.