Taking note of the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country, the Supreme Court on Wednesday (June 17) urged the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to consider cancelling the remaining Class 10 and 12 board exams.
The apex court’s directive comes after a plea was filed by some parents seeking quashing of a notification of the board for conducting the remaining examinations of Class XII from July 1 to July 15.
The plea sought a direction to the CBSE to declare the results on the basis of the exams already conducted and to calculate it on an average basis with internal assessment marks of the remaining subjects.
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.
It urged the apex court to quash the May 18 notification of the CBSE by which the date sheet for remaining exams of Class XII was declared and also to stay it till the plea is decided by the court.
A bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Sanjeev Khanna asked the CBSE to consider the prevailing situation and revert by next week.
“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 said.
It 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.
“It is highly regretful that the respondents (CBSE and Ministry of Human Resource Development) herein have no genuine concern about putting the lives at peril of all the students pan India and have no explanation whatsoever in insisting upon holding the said examination in India,” the plea claimed.
It 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 said that on May 25, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development had announced about conducting exams for classes X and XII class students in almost 15,000 exam centres as against 3,000 centres which were 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 careers 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 of final year students because of the pandemic situation.
The plea has also raised concern over the issue where an examination centre might fall within the COVID-19 containment zone.
Moreover, the petitioners argued that it is not practically possible for every parent to afford a private vehicle for travelling to exam centres and the risk of virus transmission would be the highest in public transport.