New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a plea by a group of six students demanding an option to hold CBSE and CISCE boards class 10 and 12 exams in online mode along with the center-based offline exams November 18.
Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde presented the case to the Supreme Court saying the Covid-19 pandemic is still there and students attend congregational events; therefore, it is not safe to conduct exams in physical mode.
However, Senior Advocate SG Tushar Mehta, contradicted, saying “there was no hybrid exam last year. There were 14 lakh Class 10 students and 20 lakh in Class 12.
The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar dismissed the petition observing that the exams have already commenced on November 16 and intervention at this juncture will disturb the process.
The Supreme Court bench in its order said, “…as the exam has commenced November 16, it will be inappropriate to intervene now and disturb the entire process. At this belated stage, the Writ Petition cannot be entertained. We hope and trust that all the precautions will be taken by the authorities and COVID SOP will be adhered to.”
Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the CBSE said that adequate arrangements have been adopted to address the concerns of the petitioners regarding COVID and the examination centres have been increased from 6,500 to 15,000 to ensure more social distancing and less travel time. Now only 12 students will sit in a centre, as opposed to 40 students earlier. Also, the exam time has been reduced from 3 hours to 90 minutes.
The lawyers representing boards said that at present it is tough to arrange the exams online as they have approached late.
On behalf of students, a senior advocate has claimed that these exams are mid-terms and it is premature to hold offline exams. He said that these children appearing for exams could be living with people with comorbidities. Solicitor General, however, told the court that the boards have taken stricter precautions. In total 34 lakh students are giving the exam. Earlier 40 students were made to sit in one class, and now only 12 will be allowed considering social distancing.
“Exams for major subjects in December 2021 are spread over three weeks, placing the petitioners in great apprehension on the risk of infection and the impact on subsequent exams. Preceding the exams for major subjects in December 2021 are the exams for Minor subjects in November 2021 in physical mode, further aggravating the likelihood of turning the exams for Major subjects into a Super Spreader Event,” the plea filed by advocate Sumanth Nookala, appearing for the students said.
The plea further added said that the continuous exposure through offline center-based exams will “sharply” increase the risk of Covid infection and it is a violation of the Right to Health. It added, “At any rate, such continuous exposure through offline exams sharply increases the risk of infection to Covid 19 rendering the impugned action as arbitrary and in violation of Right to Health.” Hence, the option of online exams, the plea added will facilitate social distancing, and will reduce strain on logistical constraints.
Both CBSE and CISCE have decided to hold the 2021-22 board exams in two terms. CBSE term 1 exam will begin November 16 with minor papers and ICSE (Class 10) exams will begin November 22.