SC to hear on Friday review petition for NEET, JEE postponement

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByMurali Krishnan
Sep 04, 2020 12:29 AM IST

On August 17, a three -judge bench headed by justice Arun Mishra had rejected a plea by 11 NEET/JEE candidates seeking postponement of the exams until after the Covid-19 crisis has passed.

The Supreme Court will hear on Friday a review petition filed by minister from 6 non-BJP ruled states seeking review of the August 17 order of the apex court which had allowed the National Testing Agency (NTA) and central government to hold the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) in September despite the prevailing Covid -19 situation

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court will hear the review petition.(HT PHOTO)
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court will hear the review petition.(HT PHOTO)

The plea will be heard in chambers at 1.30 pm by a 3-judge bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan. Justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari will be the other judges on the bench.

JEE, for those aspiring to join top engineering schools which is scheduled from September 1 to 6 has already commenced and the prayer concerning the same has, therefore, become infructuous (pointless).

NEET for students seeking admission to medical and dental courses is scheduled to be held on September 13.

A 3-judge bench headed by justice Arun Mishra had, on August 17, rejected a plea by 11 NEET/JEE candidates seeking postponement of the exams until after the Covid-19 crisis has passed.

The review petition against the August 17 order was filed by ministers Moloy Ghatak (West Bengal), Rameshwar Oraon (Jharkhand), Raghu Sharma (Rajasthan), Amarjeet Bhagat (Chhattisgarh), Balbir Singh Sidhu (Punjab) and Uday Ravindra Samant (Maharashtra) in their individual capacity. They submitted that the top court’s August 17 order failed to consider the safety and security of students who are slated to appear for NEET and JEE and also did not take into account the logistical difficulties in conducting the examinations.

“If the order of August 17, 2020 is not reviewed, then grave and irreparable harm and injury will befall the student community of our country and not only will health, welfare and safety of students appearing for NEET/JEE stand imperiled but also the public health at large would be in severe jeopardy in these Covid -19 pandemic times,” the petition filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes said.

A review petition is a legal remedy available after the Supreme Court has pronounced its judgment in a case. The grounds for filing a review petition are limited and the petitioners seeking review should show that a new fact or evidence has come to light or that the court committed an obvious or apparent error while delivering its judgment. It is not necessary that a review petition should be filed only by those who were parties to the original case. However, the court is cautious while entertaining review petition filed by non-parties.

The review petition as per law should also be heard by the same bench which heard the main case unless any of the judges has retired from office. Justice Bhushan replaced justice Mishra who superannuated on Wednesday.

Justice Mishra while hearing the main case on August 17 had said “life has to go on” despite the outbreak of the viral disease and the court cannot put the career of students in jeopardy by interfering with the decision of the NTA to hold the examinations in September.

“Life has to move on even in Covid times. Covid may continue but postponement of exams is a loss for the country. Are you (petitioners) ready to waste a whole year,” justice Mishra had said.

In response to this remark, the review petitioners submitted that 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.”

“Only two reasons that can be discerned from the (August 17) order for dismissal of the petition — life must go on and students should not lose an academic year. With utmost respect, both the reasons, even if cumulatively taken, do not constitute an authoritative and comprehensive judicial scrutiny of the issue,” the review petition said.

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