The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed petitions challenging the formula to evaluate Class 12 students of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE), saying it is fair, reasonable and in the larger interest of students.
Last week, the Supreme Court accepted the formula after the school-leaving examinations were cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The court also dismissed a separate challenge by students seeking cancellation of the examinations to be conducted for private or compartment students of CBSE.
Another plea by the Uttar Pradesh Parents Association demanding that the choice of taking an optional exam should be provided at the outset too was rejected by the court. It felt that doing so will restrict the choice of students. Under the scheme, they will still be able to take the improvement exam if they feel dissatisfied with their scores as per the assessment scheme of CBSE and ICSE.
A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, while dismissing the petitions against the scheme, said, “We find no reason to interfere with the CBSE, CISCE scheme. We find it fair and reasonable, takes care of all sets of students and is in the larger public interest.”
The court said it does not want to create uncertainty for students whose careers will be held up in the event they are unable to take the optional examination.
The CBSE plans to conduct the optional exam between August 15 and September 15 and CISCE before September 1, subject to the Covid-19 situation.
The Association wanted a specific date by which the results of the improvement exam could be announced.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre said, “The UGC (University Grants Commission) will give instructions to all colleges and professional institutes not to begin admissions till results (of optional exams that may be conducted) are declared.”
One petition filed by teacher Anshul Gupta argued that if students can appear in professional exams why should they not be allowed to take Class 12 exams physically.
The bench said that boards are autonomous bodies, which can independently take decisions. It added CBSE and ICSE’s schemes were prepared by expert committees of 13 members and nine members.
“It is not possible for us to adopt a second-guess approach,” the bench said. It added that in such matters one could not go by individual perceptions when it involves the lives of two million students. Moreover, the CBSE exam is a qualifying and not competitive exam, the bench said. It added by reversing the decision of boards to cancel the exams will affect the psyche of students who will face uncertainty about their careers.
The court also rejected an application filed by three private/compartment candidates seeking cancellation of examinations being held between August 15 and September 15.
It ruled out apprehensions of manipulation of marks by schools under the CBSE assessment scheme.
Venugopal submitted that for this reason, results committees in the schools will have two senior teachers from neighbouring schools. In addition, he said, schools will moderate marks based on their performances over the last three years. According to Centre, marks of Class 10, 11 and 12 internal assessments are recorded in registers. Possibility of manipulation will arise if schools commit forgery.
The court went by the submission of Centre but hinted that some mechanism to cross-check the marks should be available as the marks of Class 12 unit tests, mid-term and pre-boards are not uploaded with CBSE.