New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday allowed the National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) — a single-window exam for all medical undergraduate courses — on 14 October for aspirants who missed the exam held on 13 September due to Covid-19 or being stuck in containment zones.
The Chief Justice India led the bench that issued the order after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested the court to allow the NTA to hold NEET-2. The SG informed the bench that the results would be declared on 16 October.
The NTA’s application is in compliance with the standard operating procedure the Centre had issued related to NEET, which required the agency to conduct the test separately for those who miss the first test due to Covid-19 infection or residing in a containment zone.
“This exam will be restricted to only these two categories of students,” the NTA’s counsel Rupesh Kumar told ThePrint.
Kumar explained that the NTA had to approach the top court for permission because it cannot conduct a retest without judicial approval. The agency did this even last year for candidates from Odisha who could not take the NEET on the appointed date due to Cyclone Fani.
Exam guidelines to continue
A Supreme Court bench, then led by Justice Arun Mishra (now retired), had, on 17 August, given the go-ahead to hold NEET, observing “life has to go on” despite Covid. It said, “Career of students cannot be put in peril. We find no merit in the petition. The petition is dismissed.”
It even disregarded the lawyers for arguing such cases: “You (lawyers) have demanded the opening of physical courts. But you want exams to be postponed. Postponement of exams is a loss for the country.”
Subsequently, another set of petitions to postpone the exams was dismissed in September by another bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan.
The earlier exam guidelines released by the Centre are likely to remain in place, which will include a dress code that, among other things, bars closed footwear.
Apart from NEET 2020 admit cards with a self-declaration form mentioning the health status of the candidate, the authorities will allow candidates to take inside the hall an additional photograph, a valid photo ID, hand sanitiser bottle measuring 50 ml, a transparent water bottle, a mask and gloves.
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