The Bombay High Court instituted a suo moto PIL in light of the flood-like situation in various parts of Vidarbha District. This caused the inability of numerous students from giving the JEE-mains examination of 2020. The Court dismissed the petition and asked the students to approach the National Testing Agency (NTA).
Background of the Case
Nitesh Dudhram Bawankar sent a letter to the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court. The letter highlighted the inability of students to appear for JEE-mains examination 2020 due to the impending flood-like situation in the Vidarbha district. On 31 August 2020, the bench consisting of Justice Pushpa Ganediwala and Justice R.K. Deshpande took suo moto cognizance of the matter and instituted a Public Interest Litigation.
Through various news sources, the Court observed that due to the grim flood situation in Bhandara, Gondia, Chandrapur, and Gadchiroli, it might not be possible for students to reach the centres and appear for the examination. By way of the suo moto PIL, the Court called upon the Collectors, Municipal Authorities of the abovementioned districts and the National Testing Agency to consider postponing the JEE-Main 2020 for students of the flood-affected areas.
Submissions of the District Magistrate
The District Magistrate (DM)/Collector of Nagpur, Akola and Amravati submitted that there was no flood-like situation prevailing in the respective districts. Therefore, the students could appear for the JEE-Mains 2020 without any hurdle.
The DM/Collector of Chandrapur submitted that 21 villages were affected by floodwater and that the National and State Disaster Response Force were carrying out rescue operations. In cases where necessary, people are being evacuated and taken to safer places. Moreover, no communication regarding the number of students or if there are any from the district appearing for the JEE-Mains has been received. The JEE-Main centres at Chandrapur however, are located in areas that are not affected by floods and hence remain accessible.
The DM/Collector of Bhandara and Gondia informed that numerous villages are affected by floods. In Gondia the situation has further worsened due to the release of water from the Sanjay Sarowar Dam in Madhya Pradesh. However, there are no JEE-Main examination centres in both Bhandara and Gondia, and hence the students shall not face any issues in appearing for the examination.
The issue of inability to appear for JEE-Mains examination arose only in Gadchiroli. The DM/Collector informed the Court that due to release of water from the Gosekhurd Dam, inter-district transport had been cut off. The DM also told the Court that the situation would remain unchanged for the next two days. Hence, in such a scenario, the National Testing Agency (NTA) must be approached as they are the appropriate authority to decide on the issue of postponing exams.
Submissions of the NTA
The Counsel appearing for NTA informed the Court that Apex Body of the JEE-Main Examination would consider representations for postponement under certain conditions and after making necessary enquiries. The student unable to give the exam due to the flood or unavailability of transport shall approach the District co-ordinator or Agency of the particular district who shall make such representation to the NTA. After conducting a necessary enquiry of the same, postponement or any other alternative remedy may be considered so that the students don’t suffer for no fault on their part.
In view of the submissions made by the District Magistrates/Collectors and the representative of the NTA, the Court was satisfied by the stands taken by the Respondents. The Court also appreciated the efforts taken by the Respondents.
The Court reiterated the stand put forth by the NTA and directed that if the District co-ordinators receive any representation, the same shall be forwarded to the Apex Body of the NTA immediately. Further, the Apex Body must pass a decision on the matter within 15 days of receipt of such representation. In conclusion, the Court dismissed the suo moto PIL.
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