COVID is no reason to demand a change of examination centres for the National Eligibility Entrance Test-Post Graduate (NEET-PG) 2021, the Supreme Court has said, dismissing a writ petition by nine doctors asking for a change in venue. Interestingly, the Supreme Court said “the severity of the pandemic has come down and life is back as usual”.
The plea also sought postponement of the NEET-UG exam, set for Sunday, till the National Board of Examination allowed a venue change option.
A bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi pointed out that “today people are travelling everywhere. You go to the airport, every flight is completely booked.”
The doctors’ counsel Meenakshi Arora argued that some doctors had to travel to other states for the exam, such as Kerala where COVID cases are soaring. “At this time there won’t be too many people travelling to Kerala which is recording a surge in Covid-19 cases on a daily basis,” she said. Some other petitioners have to travel between Delhi, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for the exam.
But the judges observed that “with so many people being vaccinated, the severity of the pandemic is not as it was earlier. Life is going on as usual.”
“The students who qualified in July are allowed to change but the students who qualified in March were not allowed to. We will expose young doctors to COVID. We have young students who are exposed in COVID duties. We are asking them to travel. See the absurdity of the notification,” Arora insisted. The petition sought permission for candidates who were posted in COVID duties as of April 18, 2021, to choose their centre on the basis of their current location and not previous posting.
Arora pointed out that most candidates will travel along with their parents to the examination centre and thus their parents will be exposed to the virus as well, and that the SC had recently put off the Class 11 physical examinations scheduled to start from September 6 in Kerala. “Those currently located in the state of Kerala and travelling long distances to reach the centre will not only expose themselves to the virus but will also be a health hazard for thousands of others,” Arora said. The judges were, however, in no mood to relent.
The NEET (PG) exam was scheduled for April 18 and was postponed to September 11, Saturday. The NEET (UG) will be held on Sunday. (September 12).
The SC had recently allowed a change in exam centre for two NEET PG candidates who were in an advanced stage of pregnancy.