New Delhi, September 4: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain the review petition filed by ministers of six opposition-ruled states who were seeking review of the court’s August 17 order to conduct NEET-UG and JEE (Mains) examinations.

The ministers in the plea had claimed that the top court order failed to secure students’ “right to life” and ignored “teething logistical difficulties” to be faced in conducting the exams during the COVID-19 pandemic, Livemint reported.

The state ministers on August 28 moved SC and demanded that the examinations be postponed by at least six to eight weeks keeping in mind the surge in coronavirus cases and health concerns of students. It alleged that the government’s decision to go ahead with examinations despite the 3.3 million covid cases with over 60,000 deaths, “reveals non application of mind, and is unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious exercise of power”.

The review plea has been filed by ministers from West Bengal (Moloy Ghatak), Jharkhand (Rameshwar Oraon), Rajasthan (Raghu Sharma), Chhattisgarh (Amarjeet Bhagat), Punjab (B S Sidhu) and Maharashtra (Uday Ravindra Sawant).

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari considered the review plea in chambers.

The review petitions further stated that the NTA has ignored the logistical difficulties in carrying the examinations on the proposed dates and also failed to balance the competing but equally crucial aspect of conducting the examination and safety of the students. The review petitioners had also raised the issue of lack of “mandatory safeguards” for carrying the examinations.

Earlier, on 17 August, the apex court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra ordered for the dismissal of the petition and said “Career of students cannot be put under jeopardy for long.”

Justice Mishra had said “Life cannot be stopped. We have to move ahead with all safeguards and all…. Education should be opened up. COVID may continue for a year more. Are you going to wait another year? Do you know what is the loss to the country and peril to the students.”

The JEE-Main are being held from 1 to 6 September, while NEET exams for admission to undergraduate courses in medical colleges is scheduled for 13 September. JEE Advanced for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) is scheduled for later in September.

More than 82% candidates appeared in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)-Main on the third day of the test on Thursday, amid stringent precautions in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

The Ministry of Education officials said while the Thursday’s attendance in the engineering entrance exam was 82.14%, it was 81.08% on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, over 150 academicians from various universities in India and abroad have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that delaying JEE-Mains and NEET any further will mean compromising the future of students.

“Youths and students are the future of the nation but in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, clouds of uncertainty have gathered over their careers too. There are lot of apprehensions about admission and classes which need to be resolved at the earliest,” they have said in their letter.

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