The Supreme Court on Monday deferred decision on the plea to cancel the Class 12 Board examinations after the Centre said a decision on this will be taken in the next two days. The court was hearing a plea by advocate Mamta Sharma seeking cancellation of Class 12 exams in view of the surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.
Adjourning the hearing to Thursday, a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said, “The competent authority is examining all aspects of the matter and is expected to take an in principle decision in two days.”
Attorney General KK Venugopal informed the court on behalf of the Centre that in the next two days, the competent authority is likely to take a decision. He requested the court to adjourn the hearing on the public interest litigation (PIL) by two days.
The bench wished to know from the Centre why the assessment scheme evolved by the Centre last year during the pandemic could not be applicable this year as well. “Similar situation arose last year too. Why similar dispensation as last year cannot be adopted for this year too,” the bench asked Venugopal. The country’s top law officer informed the court that last year, exams had to be cancelled midway after some of the Class 12 Board papers got over.
The bench reminded the AG, “There is sanguine hope expressed by the petitioner that the policy adopted last year is good for this year. If you are departing from it, give us good reasons for departing from it.” Venugopal told the court that reasons have to be given only if the Centre was departing from last year’s policy.
Petitioner Mamta Sharma requested the court to ensure that the decision is time-bound as there are students waiting to apply in universities abroad.
Last week, when the matter was heard, the bench told the petitioner to be optimistic about the outcome of Centre’s decision. Besides the Centre, Sharma had served a copy of her petition to the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE). The two boards appeared today through counsel Rupesh Kumar and senior advocate JK Das respectively.
Sharma’s PIL asked the court to consider scrapping the examinations as in her view students should not be made to suffer amid an unprecedented public health crisis. On April 14, CBSE issued notification cancelling Class 10 examinations and postponing public examination for Class 12. Similar notifications were issued by CISCE on April 16 and 19.
Challenging the decision of both the boards, the petition said, “In view of the unprecedented health emergency and rising number of Covid-19 cases, conduct of examinations either online/offline/blended in coming weeks is not possible and delay in examination will cause irreparable loss to students as time is essence in taking admission in higher education courses in foreign universities. ” Sharma wanted the CBSE, CISCE and Centre to devise an objective methodology to declare the result within a specific time frame.
Last year, the top court was faced with a similar demand to cancel Class 12 Board examinations in the midst of the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic. After Court’s intervention, the CBSE decided to scrap Class 10 examinations and devised an assessment scheme for Class 12 students based on exams already taken and their overall performance during the year.