The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to postpone the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering Exam, 2022 (GATE 2022) saying postponement of the exam will create “chaos and uncertainty” in the lives of students who have registered for the exam.
A Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud dismissed the pleas seeking postponement of the GATE 2022 exam in view of the third wave of the COVID-19 and observed that it found no overarching reasons to supplant duties and responsibilities of regulatory authorities.
The GATE 2022 is scheduled to be held on February 5, 6, 12 and 13.
It also said that entertaining the petitions 48 hours before the exam will lead to uncertainty and chaos.
“The plea for postponement of the GATE examination barely 48 hours before the scheduled date on February 5, 2022, is replete with a propensity for chaos and uncertainty in the lives of the students who have registered for the examination. There is no overarching reason that this court in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution should supplant the duties and functions of the regulatory authorities who have taken a decision to hold the examination,” the Bench stated in its order while dismissing the pleas.
As advocates Pallav Mongia and Satpal Singh, appearing for petitioners, requested for postponement of the exam, the apex court said that it cannot start posting exams like this.
“Now everything is opening in the country. We can’t play with the career of students. It is a matter of academic policy and these matters should be examined by them. It is very dangerous for the court to enter into this arena,” it observed.
Two petitions are filed in the issue – one by the students/candidates
appearing for the GATE 2022 Exam – and other one a PIL on behalf of Umesh Dhande who runs an education institute that mentors students for GATE and other exams.
“The country is currently suffering from a ‘third Wave’ of rising COVID cases with a number of daily cases touching a record 3 lakh and above. In this frightening situation that has engulfed the whole country, the Petitioners are being forced to write the GATE 2022 physically which poses a massive health risk on the lives of many aspirants like the petitioners,” the pleas said.
The petitioners have also challenged the instructions of January 15, 2022, issued by the Centre by which instructions to the candidates appearing for the exam were notified. The pleas said notification/ instructions to the candidates were annexed with the admit cards.
The petitioners while stating that more than 9 lakh students are appearing for the exam across 200 exam centers, they said guidelines were not issued or procedures not set out to assess the health conditions of the students appearing for the exam.
“The instructions issued also lacks clarity, creates confusion among students as it creates an unnecessary classification between students who will be allowed to appear for the exam and those who would be barred with no medical or legal basis. The instructions allow asymptomatic students who are showing symptoms to appear for the exam but not those students who have tested positive but are asymptomatic. There exists no intelligible differentia in such classification by the Respondents as per instructions and thus it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India,” the pleas stated.
It is pertinent to point out that the instructions incentivize students who might be showing symptoms of COVID-19 to not get tested for COVID as a positive test will bar them from appearing for the exam, the pleas added.
It further stated that on the contrary, the instructions allow students who are showing symptoms to appear for the exam but have not tested positive for COVID.
The pleas said, “This classification is absurd and self-contradictory, and defeats the resolve of the Government to test maximum people for proper tracing and treatment.”
The petitioners also said that many states have already postponed some of their exams scheduled in January and February 2022, in light of third-wave hitting the country.