New Delhi: Two students have approached the Supreme Court through a letter petition to Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde seeking postponement of National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Exams (JEE) on humanitarian grounds amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A third-year law student and a 12th class student wrote a joint letter petition to CJI Bobde on Friday seeking his intervention to quash the decision of the Government of India to hold the NEET and JEE examination in September amid the ongoing pandemic.
The letter said the issues required urgent and kind attention of the court and added that the decision of the government to hold NEET and JEE examinations during the COVID-19 pandemic is a “clear violation of Article 21 of the Constitution in as much as it forces all students, who wish to participate in the said examinations, to either endanger their lives and health by exposing themselves to the virus or risk their academic future by losing a chance to appear in the said entrance examinations.”
It said that COVID-19 is emerging as one of the most dangerous pandemics in human memory and added that hundreds of thousands of people have died and millions have been infected worldwide. It said even if they survive they will face long terms consequences of this disease.
The letter further said that more than three million people have been infected in India and over 50,000 people have lost their lives.
“To protect the lives of the people, the Courts, Parliament, most legislative assemblies, all academic institutions are closed. Most government and private offices are working at 50 per cent capacity to avoid the spread of infection. So many precautions are being taken to protect the lives of adult citizens of India, which is a very welcome step. However to the utter shock of all students, their lives are being considered to be less valuable then the lives of these VIPs and the 17-18-year-old students are being forced to endanger their lives to appear in the entrance examination when the pandemic is at its peak,” the letter petition said.
“Many students live far from the examination centres and will have to travel large distances in public transport to appear in the examinations, which will expose them to great risk of getting infected. AIIMs has recommended that wearing a mask for more than 2.5 hours at a stretch is unsafe for any person, but even then these minor children are expected to wear a mask and give the entrance examinations for long hours while wearing a mask,” it added.
The letter petition said that this decision is weighed heavily against the students coming from the underprivileged sections of the society as they don’t have access to private transport and proper masks and face shields. The letter also said that their exposure and risk will be far greater than the children of the privileged and financially affluent families.
The Supreme Court had on August 17 dismissed a petition seeking the postponement of the NEET and JEE exams to be held in September 2020, observing that the career of students cannot be put under jeopardy for long.