The Centre and the CBSE told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that discussion on whether to scrap the remaining exams of Class XII from July 1-15 in view of increasing number of COVID-19 cases is at an advanced stage and a decision is likely to be taken on Wednesday.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar that the government and the board are aware of the anxiety of students, and authorities will take a decision on the issue soon.
Mehta requested the bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, to adjourn the matter for a day and said he would apprise the apex court about the decision taken by the authorities.
The bench, after hearing Mehta’s submissions, adjourned the matter for June 25. The top court was hearing a plea, filed by some parents of the students appearing for the exam, seeking a direction to the CBSE to declare the results on the basis of exam already conducted and to calculate it on an average basis with internal assessment marks of remaining subjects.
The plea has also sought quashing of the May 18 notification of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) by which the date sheet for remaining exams of Class XII was declared.
Meanwhile, the apex court also heard a separate plea on Tuesday which has sought scrapping of the examinations conducted by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (ICSE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The counsel appearing for ICSE told the bench that they would broadly follow the government’s decision regarding CBSE exams. The bench, however, observed that the ICSE can take its own informed decision on the issue.
Mehta said that decision taken regarding CBSE exam may not be binding on ICSE.
The top court has posted both the matters for hearing on June 25. The Bombay High Court had yesterday asked Maharashtra government to clear its stand on permitting ICSE board to conduct its pending examinations of classes 10 and 12 in July amid the concern over rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state.
On June 17, the CBSE had told the apex court that it would “very shortly” take appropriate decision on the issue raised in a plea which has sought quashing of the board’s notification for conducting remaining examinations of Class XII.
Raising concern over the safety of lakhs of students, the plea has said that they might be exposed to COVID-19 infection if they have to appear in the examinations amid the increase in number of cases of virus infection.
“The said petition would also demonstrate the extent of discriminatory and arbitrariness conduct of the respondent/CBSE in issuing the notification for holding of the remaining examination and that too in the month of July, 2020 wherein as per the AIIMS data, the said COVID-19 pandemic would be at its peak,” the plea has said.
It has alleged that considering the gravity of COVID-19 pandemic, the CBSE has cancelled the examinations of Class X and XII for its around 250 schools which are situated abroad and has adopted the criteria of awarding marks on the basis of either practical exams conducted or the internal assessment marks.
The plea said that in April this year, the CBSE had directed the schools to promote students of classes IX and XI to the respective next grades on the basis of school based assessments. It also said that on May 25, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development had announced conducting of exams for classes X and XII in almost 15,000 centres as against 3,000 centres used earlier.
“Ensuring proper cleanliness and safety standards as prescribed by the concerned government in COVID-19 situation in those 15,000 exam centres spreading over length and breadth of the country including rural sectors would not only be risking health and life of children but also would be an exercise in futility and an eyewash,” the plea said.
It said even if it is to be assumed that 50 per cent of coronavirus cases are asymptomatic then the students, who will appear in the exams, could be potential carriers posing a great risk to themselves and also their family members.
The plea said that several premier educational institutes, like Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), have also cancelled their exams including those for the final year students because of the pandemic situation.
It has also raised concern over the issue where an examination centre might fall within the COVID-19 containment zone.