The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court on Saturday refused to grant interim relief to approximately 44,000 medical students across the country who are to appear physically for the examinations held by the Maharashtra University of Health Science’s (MUHS) on June 10.
A single bench of justice Avinash Gharote said, “Every examinee should have himself tested for COVID-19 and produce a negative report along with his hall ticket. As a safety measure, it would be advisable for each examinee to have conducted an RT-PCR test upon himself and only in case, he finds such a test is negative, he may sit for the examinations.”
“The MUHS, therefore, is directed to issue an advisory to the principals of various colleges and also to publish on its website indicating that it would be desirable that each examinee should have himself tested for COVID-19 and should produce a negative report along with his hall ticket on June 10. In case, an examinee does not have such a certificate, he should be permitted to enter the exam but should also be asked to get an RT-PCR test conducted upon himself and produce a report in that regard on the next date of the examination. Needless to say if the report is found positive, the examinee would not be in a position to take the examination”, the court said.
Plea for online exam
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by NGO Herd Foundation and Nitesh Tantarpale, a student, through advocate Rahul Bhangde, challenging the MUHS’s decision as well as the direction to sign an undertaking that the State would not be held responsible if students contracted COVID-19 because of appearing in the exam. The plea urged that an online exam be held for ‘Winter 2020’ in which graduate and post-graduate students would appear for certificate courses. It mentioned that several students and family members tested COVID-19 positive after the NEET in September last.
In the last hearing, advocate Abhijit Deshpande, for the MUHS, defended its stand, saying: “We had conducted a physical exam last year. Two phases of the ‘Winter 2020’ have already been conducted and the third exam will begin on June 10, so all question papers have been dispatched.”
The court said there was a fear that the virus would spread due to the congregation. Mr Deshpande said, “We are taking all the precautions. We have floated a ‘suraksha kavach’ scheme for the students.