The Supreme Court on Thursday turned down a plea by nine doctors for a change of examination centres for the upcoming National Eligibility Entrance Test- Post Graduate (NEET-PG) test on Saturday on account of Covid-19 restrictions and the fact that some of them were required to visit states where Covid-19 cases were still on the rise.
Convincing the doctors to shed their fears, the bench of justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi said, “Today people are travelling everywhere. You go to the airport, every flight is completely booked.”
Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the doctors, said that one of the petitioners was posted at Varanasi for Covid-19 duty where Covid-19 situation is largely under control and had to appear for the NEET-PG test in Kerala. “At this time there won’t be too many people travelling to Kerala which is recording a surge in Covid-19 cases on a daily basis,” Arora said. Other petitioners too were required to travel inter-state between Delhi, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The bench said, “With so many people being vaccinated, the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic is not as it was earlier. Life is going on as usual.”
Arora pointed out that these are young doctors on Covid-19 duty who had exercised the option of their centres before March 15 based on the nearest centre to the area of their posting. The exam was scheduled for April 18 and was postponed to September 11 by a notification dated July 13.
Four out of the nine petitioners had to travel either inside or outside of Kerala. The petition filed through advocate Charu Mathur said, “Those currently located in the state of Kerala and travelling long distances to reach the centre will not only expose themselves to the virus but will also be a health hazard for thousands of others. Further, most of the candidates will travel along with their parents to the examination centre and thus their parents will be severely exposed to the deadly virus.”
Arora further stated that considering the Covid-19 surge in Kerala, the top court had recently put off the Class 11 physical examinations scheduled to start from September 6. She pointed out that the window for registration and opting centre was opened from August 16 to 25 for those candidates who became eligible under the Government decision to provide 27% quota for other backward classes (OBC) and 10% quota to economically weaker sections (EWS) in 50% of all India quota PG medical/dental seats. “See the absurdity of providing the option to those who registered in August but not for us,” Arora submitted.
The bench said, “We had made an exception a week back for two doctors who were in their seventh and eighth month of pregnancy, allowing them a change of examination centre in view of their difficulty to travel. But in your case, you were well aware of the examination being held. We will dismiss your petition.”