- The Supreme Court Thursday refused to postpone the GATE exam 2022.
- SC dismissed pleas stating "chaos and uncertainty" can be caused if exam is postponed.
- Bench noted that 9 lakh students are to appear, but only 20,000 signed petition for postponement.
The Supreme Court Thursday refused to postpone the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering Exam (GATE) scheduled to be held on February 5 amidst COVID-19 restrictions in many parts of the country.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath dismissed a batch of pleas, saying that postponing GATE just 48 hours before the scheduled examination will result in "chaos and uncertainty" and it cannot play with careers of students, who have prepared for it.
“The plea for postponement of GATE examination barely 48 hours before the scheduled date February 5, 2022, is replete with a potential for chaos and uncertainty, in the lives of students who have registered for the examination. There is no overarching reason why this court in exercise of 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 said.
“On a considered perspective of the position and consistent with the circumspect which must be exercised by this court in interfering with academic matters, we are not inclined to entertain a petition under Article 32 of the constitution. These petitions are accordingly dismissed,” it added.
At the outset, the bench said, “We cannot start postponing exams like this, everything is opening up now. We cannot play with the careers of the students like this. One of the petitioners before us is a coaching centre”.
It said that it is a matter of academic policy as to when examination should be held and court cannot enter this arena. Advocate Pallav Mongia, appearing for one of the petitioners, said that nine lakh students are appearing in the GATE examination and authorities have imposed restrictions in many states.
The bench noted that nine lakh students are to appear in the examination and around 20,000 students have signed an online petition for postponing of the examination.
“The students have prepared for it and the court cannot play with the careers of the students by postponing the examination,” the bench observed, adding that the first and second wave of COVID was something different.
“Only statutory authorities can look into this. Students have burnt midnight oil and prepared for the examination. Examination is on February 5 and if we stay the examination now, then there will be chaos in the country”, it said. Justice Surya Kant pointed out to the counsel that how can the court interfere with the examination?
Advocate Satpal Singh, appearing for a petitioner, said that there are lockdowns and night curfews in many cities and IIT Kharagpur says even students with mild symptoms can be debarred.
He said petitioners are only seeking postponement of the exam by a month. The bench said that how is he so sure that the situation will be better after a month.
“You will never have an absolutely clear picture in all the states. Look at the legitimacy of courts stepping into this arena. Just because some States have issues, how can we play with the careers of all students, who have been preparing,” the bench said.
On Wednesday, the top court had agreed to list a plea seeking postponement of the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering Exam (GATE) commencing from February 5 due to the COVID pandemic situation.
The plea for postponement of the examination said that nine lakh students are appearing in the test at 200 centres and the authorities have not issued any Covid-appropriate guidelines for conducting the exam.
The GATE tests the understanding of various undergraduate subjects in engineering and science for admission into the Masters Programme and Recruitment by some PSUs.