“We do not consider it proper to grant interim relief at this stage by staying the examinations scheduled,” said a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Surendra Tavade. “There could be examinees who might be willing and prepared to write the examinations, even physically. A stay on the examinations behind their back would be detrimental to their interests.” HC heard dental students’ petition to set aside Maharashtra University of Health Sciences’ timetable for exams during the pandemic in the state.
Their advocate, Kuldeep Nikam, urged for a stay, saying the students are prepared to take online exams but are opposed to physically appearing for them.
Nikam said two students had posted online about testing positive for Covid. MUHS advocate Rajshekhar Govilkar, though, said the Supreme Court, which is hearing a challenge to University Grants Commission guidelines, has not stayed any exams. “We’ll not stop the exams,” said the CJ. He remarked, “You don’t want to appear for physical exams. How will you treat patients in the hospital?”
Govilkar said exams must be held as these doctors will be available in the fight against Covid. He informed the HC all deemed universities and several states have already held the exams. Also, if the exams are not held in Maharashtra, students will be deprived of competing for superspeciality courses.
HC directed MUHS to conduct the exams “by strictly adhering to social distancing norms and other protocol to prevent the contagion”. It said if any petitioner does not seek to take the exams physically and sets up a strong case at the final hearing to direct MUHS to hold a separate exam, it will be open to HC to do so in the interest of justice.