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#ResignNishankPokhriyal - Here's What Happened with JEE & NEET 2020

On Saturday, the Supreme Court of India reaffirmed that exams for JEE Main & NEET 2020 will not be postponed from its scheduled dates. JEE exams are due to be held from September 1 to September 6, while NEET is scheduled for September 13, this year. Following the verdict, the Union Government on Friday also stated that the NEET and JEE exams will not be postponed.

Representative image of a student studying.

This previous postponement of JEE Main and NEET competitive exams from July to the current September dates, has prompted parents to file pleas for both postponement, and for a speedy conduct.

On August 6th, Aspirants filed a petition seeking cancellation of the exams till normalisation in the Supreme Court. Within days, it was followed by a petition from the Gujarat Parents Association, essentially asking the court to intervene for the exact opposite reason, and sought intervention of the court to ensure no further delay in the examination.

The court announced a rejection of the students’ last Monday. A three-judge bench headed by justice Arun Mishra 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 go on. Life has to move ahead. Precious year of students cannot be wasted," the bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Krishna Murari, said during the hearing conducted through video conferencing while paving the way for commencement of the exams as scheduled.

On Saturday, the court further ordered the government to conduct the exams as per the new revised schedules, despite students’ requests both regarding mental health conditions, and with respect to concerns raised over the short gap between the two competitive exams.

As the news hit social media, Students took to Twitter with the hashtag #ResignNishankPokhriyal on Saturday morning, demanding that the Union Education Minister resign from his position.

This has prompted politicians to get involved, and take a stand for students.

Several Congress party leaders, including former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, asked the government to listen to students’ demands.

“Today lakhs of students are saying something. The GOI must listen to the Students Ke Mann Ki Baat about NEET, JEE exams and arrive at an acceptable solution,” Gandhi said in a tweet.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal called it an “injustice”, and suggested that the only just, fair and sensible solution is to postpone JEE and NEET.

Subramanian Swamy, senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member, on Friday said that he has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal.

In the letter, Swamy wrote, "There is widespread desperation amongst the youth since this exam is make or break for them and they have to take it fully prepared. Holding the exam in their opinion you may lead to a large number of suicides around the country of youth."

This is with reference to the suicide of a 19-year-old girl in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu on the Wednesday after the SC verdict, out of fear and anxiety over the exams, according to officials. Commenting on the death of the teenager, DMK MP Kanimozhi said, "Deeply painful that another student from Coimbatore has ended her life due to the pressure of NEET exams. Considering the COVID-19 situation, the Central Government must cancel NEET at least for this year."

On Saturday, a rejoinder affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by Abdul Azeez from Kozhikode urged that SC direct the NTA to set up foreign exam centres for the conduct of the NEET UG exams for the benefit of students presently living abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The petitioner also pointed out that while the NTA has set up foreign centres for JEE, none have been set for NEET UG exams. The petition also states that students who may want to write both JEE and NEET are prejudiced against in the SC verdict to stay any postponement of exams. NEET cannot be conducted only in India as students would have to write JEE, and then travel to India, for which they may not have resources, and then be forced to quarantine before the exams, hence making it impossible for them to write the exam.

On July 3, Minister Ramesh Nishank Pokhriyal had tweeted “Keeping in mind the safety of students and to ensure quality education we have decided to postpone JEE and NEET examinations.” He went on to further emphasise on the need to keep students’ health as top priority. However, the NTA has refused to reschedule the revised schedule for September. There have been no guidelines regarding conduct or safety measures during the exams, as of yet. However, it is certain that students will have to go to centres to write their exams, something that will be difficult for aspirants in red zones. Aspirants from Bihar, Assam and north eastern states, which are presently reeling under flood, may also be disproportionately disadvantaged by the verdict. Whether this may prompt the government to take action

More updates to come.

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