Supreme Court rejects the petition to set up NEET centres overseas

    The Supreme Court of India rejects the plea to pass a direction to the National Testing Agency (NTA) to hold National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) Undergraduate (UG) 2020 at examination centres in Gulf countries to assist students who are settled overseas, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Court has requested Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to confer with the government so that students who wish to appear for the exam can fly to India via “Vande Bharat Mission” flights.

    “We request the SG to consult the concerned ministries to ensure that the students who wish to visit India to write the NEET exam should be permitted to travel through Vande Bharat Mission flights.”

    This order to make travelling easier for students was passed by the Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupt, and S Ravindra Bhat. Solicitor General was asked to inform the concerned ministries that aspirants from the Gulf countries are authorised to return to India in Vande Bharat Mission flights. The bench also refused to dismiss the 14-day COVID-19 quarantine stating that the quarantine is mandatory in the interest of public health. However, the students can approach the concerned State government seeking a relaxation of the quarantine period.

    A petition seeking directions to the Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA) to either set up NEET centres abroad or postpone the exam, was moved by General Secretary of the Kerala Muslim Culture Centre, Qatar, Abdul Azeez. It was rejected by a High Court Division Bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly. This urged the petitioners to approach the Supreme Court, where the plea was filed through Advocate Pallavi Pratap.

    The apex court had issued notice to Centre and the Medical Council of India on this petition, in the month of July. This petition – seeking the postponement of NEET and the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) scheduled to be held amid the COVID-19 pandemic was rejected by the Court, early this month. Subsequently, the Union Government on Friday also declared that the NEET and JEE exams will not be postponed.