The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to postpone the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering Exam, 2022 (GATE 2022) because delaying the exam will cause “chaos and uncertainty” in the lives of students who have registered for the exam.
A bench headed by Judge DY Chandrachud rejected pleas for a postponement of the GATE 2022 exam in view of the third wave of the COVID-19, noting that there were no overarching reasons to replace regulatory duties and responsibilities.
The GATE 2022 is scheduled for February 5, 6, 12 and 13.
It also said that receiving the petitions 48 hours before the exam will lead to uncertainty and chaos.
“The plea for the postponement of the GATE exam barely 48 hours before its scheduled date of February 5, 2022 is rife with a tendency to chaos and uncertainty in the lives of the students who have registered for the exam. There is no overarching reason that this court should, in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution, replace the duties and functions of the regulatory authorities that have decided to conduct the examination,” the Bench stated in its decision, while he rejected the pleas.
While advocates Pallav Mongia and Satpal Singh, who appeared before the petitioners, asked for the exam to be postponed, the highest court said it cannot start posting exams like this.
“Now everything is opening up in the country. We cannot play with the careers of students. It is a matter of academic policy and these matters should be investigated by them. It is very dangerous for the court to enter this arena,” it observed.
Two petitions have been filed in the matter – one by the students/candidates
appear for the GATE 2022 exam – and another a PIL on behalf of Umesh Dhande who runs an educational institute that guides 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 reaching a record 3 lakh and more. In this terrifying situation that has engulfed the entire country, the petitioners are being forced to close the GATE write 2022 physically, which poses a huge health risk to the lives of many aspirants like the petitioners,” the pleas said.
The petitioners also challenged the instructions of January 15, 2022 issued by the Center informing the candidates who appeared for the exam. The pleas for the notice/instructions to the candidates were attached to the admission cards.
Although the petitioners claimed that more than 9 lakh students appear for the exam in 200 exam centers, they said no guidelines had been issued or procedures had been established to assess the health status of the students appearing for the exam.
“Also, the instructions provided are unclear, creating confusion among students as it creates an unnecessary classification between students who are allowed to appear for the exam and those who would be disfellowshipped without a medical or legal basis. The instructions allow asymptomatic students who show symptoms before the exam , but not those students who have tested positive but are asymptomatic. There is no intelligible difference in such classification by the respondents as per the instructions and therefore it is contrary to Article 14 of the Constitution of India,” the Supplications said.
It is pertinent to point out that the instructions encourage students who may be showing symptoms of COVID-19 not to be tested for COVID-19 as a positive test will prevent them from appearing for the exam, the plea added to.
It further stated that the instructions actually allow students who show symptoms to appear for the exam but have not tested positive for COVID.
The pleas read: “This classification is absurd and contradictory, and defeats the government’s determination to test as many people as possible for proper detection and treatment.”
The petitioners also said that many states have already postponed some of their exams scheduled for January and February 2022 in light of the third wave hitting the country.