Expressing concerns for students, the Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra Government to give its ‘clear’ position on holding physical examination for pending papers of classes 10 and 12 of the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) and sought to know if it was adopting a ‘wait and watch situation’. The court also asked the Central Government to inform it on the decision of the Home Ministry pertaining to the plea before the Allahabad High Court seeking to cancel exams rescheduled in July.
Last month, the CISCE said it will conduct the remaining exams starting July 1. In a statement, the board said class X exams will be held from July 2 to 12 and class XII exams from July 1 to 14.
The CISCE on June 15 had told the HC that it will not force students to appear for the remaining exams for classes X and XII in July and that it had decided to offer students two options — they can appear for the remaining papers as per the revised schedule or they could opt-out, in which case the final results will be based on their performance in internal assessment or pre-board exams.
Further, the Council on June 17 had said schools would be asked to extend the time for parents and students to decide on whether they want to appear for physical examination and would submit the detailed methodology before the court by June 22, when the submissions on the same will be heard.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde heard, through video-conference, a plea by advocate Arvind Rangnarain Tiwari, also the parent of a student from an ICSE-affiliated school, who had sought a court direction to the authorities to cancel the rescheduled exams in view of the pandemic and declare results on the basis of past performance in the papers for which exams have not been held yet. The HC also heard intervention pleas by parents.
The Maharashtra government had informed the HC that it has the power and authority to regulate and, if necessary, completely prevent the conduct of CISCE board exams of pending papers in view of Covid-19 pandemic. Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said depending on how many students opt to actually appear for the physical exams, it will be able to take a final decision.
On Monday, the bench expressed concerns in view of rising Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra along with the toll on students and asked the state government if it was adopting a ‘wait and watch’ approach and directed it to file reply stating its clear position on holding physical exams in various situations depending on the number of students opting for physical exams.
Moreover, the HC on June 17 had asked the CISCE to place before it the exact methodology for alternate grading of students based on internal assessment for the remaining exams of classes 10 and 12 so that they can make an informed decision whether or not to appear for physical examination in July.
However, on Monday, the CISCE sought an adjournment stating that the methodology was not finalised yet and similar matter pertaining to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) was pending before the Supreme Court, which is likely to be heard on Tuesday.
Intervenor parents and others said that most of the schools have forced their students to submit options by today (June 22) and it is unfair since they cannot make an informed decision in absence of clarity on methodology for alternate assessment.
The bench assured the students and parents that it will extend time for them to exercise their options and said that students need not worry and submit their options without making an informed decision.
The Court also directed additional solicitor general Anil Singh to inform it about the decision taken by the Central Government on the order of the Allahabad High Court, which on June 15, had referred a plea seeking cancellation of pending CISCE and CBSE exams to the Union Home ministry and other competent authority of the Central Government to take an appropriate decision.
Asking the Maharashtra Government to state its clear stand on holding physical exams and Centre to place on record relevant decisions, the bench posted further hearing on Wednesday, June 24.