Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday lashed out at the government for being “blind to students’ distress” and refusing to postpone the NEET, which is scheduled for September 12.
In a short but pithy tweet Mr Gandhi said: “GoI (Government of India) is blind to students’ distress. Postpone NEET exam. Let them have a fair chance.”
GOI is blind to students’ distress.
Postpone #NEET exam. Let them have a fair chance.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 7, 2021
On Monday the Supreme Court dismissed petitions to defer NEET because this year’s date clashed with other exams; the court said it did not want to interfere with the examination process and that it would be “very unfair” to the majority of students if it were to reschedule the test.
In yesterday’s hearing the petitioners – several of whom were students – had argued that the NEET date clashed with other exams, including those for compartment exams for CBSE students.
The court was unimpressed, especially when it was pointed out that over 16 lakh students sit for the NEET every year, and said that it could not defer the exam on a plea of a few students.
“The arguments which you (counsel for petitioners) are canvassing may not be relevant for 99 per cent candidates. For one per cent candidates, the entire system cannot be put on hold,” a bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar and including Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice CT Ravikumar said.
Advocate Shoeb Alam, appearing for the petitioners, had submitted that around 25,000 students were set to appear for either improvement or compartment examinations for Class 12.
“If you are to appear in multiple exams, you need to make a choice,” the court said, “You have to prioritise… must also be conscious that any deferment is likely to clash with some other exam.”
Mr Gandhi was similarly critical of the decision to hold NEET (National Eligibility and Entrance Test)and JEE (Joint Entrance Exams) last year; that was when daily Covid cases were over the 85,000 mark.
At the time he had said students’ safety could not be compromised due to the government’s “failures”.
NEET-JEE aspirants’ safety should not compromised due to the failures of the Govt.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 28, 2020
Last year, the NEET was conducted on September 13 amid strict precautions in view of the pandemic. A total of 13.66 lakh candidates appeared for the exam, of whom around 7.7 lakh qualified.
Ahead of NEET 2020, the Congress and other major opposition parties had protested against holding competitive exams while Covid cases were at a peak. Apart from Mr Gandhi, party chief Sonia Gandhi also spoke out, asking the government to “listen” to students and their concerns.
The centre defended it decision to hold the exams, saying it was the result of “constant pressure from parents and students” worried about academic and professional futures.
To minimise the risk coronavirus infection, students appearing for JEE and NEET were told to wear masks and gloves, and carry a personal bottle of water and hand sanitiser to exam centres.
Entry timings to centres were staggered and students had to clear a thermal scan. Exam centres also had isolation rooms for those who might be infected.
With input from PTI