SC grants liberty to students to make representation before authority

New Delhi, September 15

The Supreme Court granted freedom to a group of students, who are aggrieved by a clause in the JEE (Advanced) 2021 information brochure that requires a candidate to take the examination within two years of a clearing XII or equivalent exam, to make representation before the appropriate authority on the issue.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar said it appeared that petitioners have directly approached the apex court without representation to the appropriate authority of the Chairman, Joint Admission Board, JEE (Advanced) office, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

“Accordingly, we dispose of this writ with liberty to the petition to make representation before the appropriate authority of respondent number two (Chairman, Joint Admission Board), in the first place,” said the bench, also comprising justices Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar.

The bench said in its order that the representation would be decided expeditiously, preferably before the closing date of submission of application of JEE (Advanced) 2021.

“We are not expressing any opinion one way or the other with regard to the correctness of the claim set up in the present petition,” it said, adding, “All questions of law are left open” The top court was hearing a petition, filed by five students, who had passed class XII examinations in the academic year 2018-19 and said as per the criteria set in the 2021 information brochure, the JEE (Advanced) 2020 was their final attempt to secure admission into institutions of excellence such as IIT.

The petitioners had said they have cleared the JEE Mains examination in 2021 but are aggrieved by a clause in the brochure that requires a candidate to take the examination only within two years of clearing their 10+2 or equivalent exam, though age limit as per the clause is 25 years.

They had sought the apex court’s direction that ineligibility prescribed in criterion 4 of clause 11 of the information brochure insofar as it renders candidates who cleared class XII in 2019 ineligible from being able to appear in JEE (Advanced) 2021 even after qualifying JEE Mains, is “arbitrary and violative” of Article 14 of the Constitution.

The plea, filed through advocate Sumanth Nookala, also sought a direction to the concerned authorities to consider the possibility to accommodate the petitioners and those, who have qualified JEE Mains 2021 in their scheduled third attempt, to appear for the JEE (Advanced) exam 2021 next month as a matter of “just and fair chance”.

The plea said the petitioners had registered and appeared for a JEE (Advanced) exam conducted in September last year, but could not perform well due to severe disruptions in preparation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown among other circumstances.

“This indulgence is sought for as a matter of a career saving opportunity, as the circumstances of the petition were no different from the absentees who have now availed the benefit of directly appearing for the JEE (Advance) 2021 conferred to them by the Joint Admission Board vide its press release dated October 13, 2020,” it said. PTI

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