SC directs CBSE, CISCE to place on record objective criteria for 12th assessment

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The Supreme Court on Thursday said it was happy to note that the government has cancelled the class 12 board exams, and directed the CBSE and CICSE to place on record well-defined objective criteria for assessment of students in two weeks.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari asked Attorney General K K Venugopal and advocate J K Das, appearing for the CISCE, to place on record the parameters within two weeks.

“We are happy to note that the government has taken the decision to cancel class 12 board exams but we want that the objective criteria fixed for assessment of marks be placed before us,” the bench said.

The bench clarified that it will not give more time for placement of objective criteria as many students will be taking admissions in colleges in India and abroad.

The top court said that it will go through the objective parameters for assessment of marks, so that if anyone has objections they can be dealt with.

“This is equally important as the relief sought by the petitioners seeking cancellation of board exams,” the bench observed.

The bench was hearing a plea seeking directions to cancel the class 12 exams of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) amid the pandemic situation.

At the outset, Venugopal said that he has circulated a letter about the decision taken by the government, which the bench said it has gone through.

Veugopal said that CBSE will require some time to formulate the well-defined objective criteria for assessment of class 12 students and the court may defer the hearing for at least two weeks.

Das said CISCE wanted 3-4 weeks for placing the objective criteria as there will be consultation of experts in the process.

The bench said, “You (CISCE) can do it over-night. Four weeks’ time is a little longer. We cannot give you 3-4 weeks’ time. You please place it before us in two weeks as students will have to take admissions in colleges. Nowadays all communication is happening virtually”.

Petitioner in-person Mamta Sharma said that like CBSE and CISCE, there are many state boards which have not taken any decision on class 12 exams. She said that there are about 1.2 crore students in state boards and the court may direct them to take decisions.

The bench told Sharma, “You should have patience and not rush things like this. You have only asked for cancellation of board exams by CBSE and now you are saying state boards. You are asking for heavens. First let CBSE place on record objective criteria and then we will see about other boards”.

The top court then deferred the hearing by two weeks.

On June 1, the government has decided to cancel the CBSE Class 12 board exams because of the COVID-19 pandemic with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserting that the decision has been taken in the interest of students and that the anxiety among students, parents and teachers must be put to an end.

The call was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Modi in which it was decided that the CBSE will take steps to compile the results of class 12 students as per well-defined objective criteria in a time-bound manner.

On May 31, Centre has informed the top court that it will take a final decision within the next two days on whether to conduct class 12 board exams amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The top court had then observed that if the Centre decides to depart from the last year’s policy, wherein the remaining board exams were cancelled due to the pandemic, then it must give “tangible reasons” for it.

Observing that the last year’s decision was taken after deliberations, the apex court had said, “If you are departing from that policy, please give us good reasons so that we can examine it.”

The apex court on June 26, 2020 had approved the schemes of the CBSE and CISCE for cancellations of remaining board examinations scheduled from July 1 to 15 last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and also approved their formula for assessment of examinees.

Sharma’s plea has also sought directions to devise an “objective methodology” to declare the result of class 12 within a specific time frame. 

The petition has arrayed the Centre, the CBSE and the CISCE as respondents in the matter.

The CBSE had on April 14 announced cancellation of class 10 exams and postponement of class 12 exams in view of the surge in coronavirus cases.

The plea filed in the apex court has contended that due to the unprecedented health emergency and surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, it is not possible to conduct the examination and any further delay would cause irreparable loss to the future of students.

“In view of the unprecedented health emergency and rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the conduct of examination (either offline/online/blended) in upcoming weeks is not possible and delay in examination will cause irreparable loss to the students as time is the essence in taking admission in higher education courses in foreign universities,” the plea has said.



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