“Don’t mess up the education system:” Supreme Court dismisses plea by CBSE, ICSE students seeking hybrid option for term exams

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The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea by six students seeking directions to conduct term exams for class 10 and class 12 for Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) boards via hybrid mode instead of physical examinations (Urvashi Naidu v. CBSE).

A Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar noted that exams have already commenced and there will be practical difficulties if the Court interferes at this stage.

“Exams are going on. Let us be practical. Now how can it made be online? Now they have to install it. Its too late now and exams cannot be rescheduled,” the Bench told Senior Counsel Sanjay Hegde who was appearing for the petitioners.

“Don’t mess up with the education system. Let the authorities continue their work,” the Bench further said.

The Court also did not take it kindly that the petitioner moved the Court at the eleventh hour.

“You are very late. Every time this happens and headlines are made. This last minute business has to be discouraged,” the Court stated.

The Court also took into account the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that all precautions have been taken for conducting the exams.

“COVID concerns have been taken care of. Earlier 40 students sat in class but now only 12 students will be sitting in class so that there is social distancing. Number of exam centers have been increased to 15,000,” he said.

In view of all these, the Court refused to entertain the plea.

Term 1 and Semester 1 of CBSE and ICSE/ ISC exams for class 10 and class 12 students for the academic year 2021-22 are scheduled to be held from November 16 and November 22 and would be in compulsory physical mode.

The plea had said that the CBSE and ICSE boards by adopting offline/ physical mode instead of hybrid mode, are acting in contravention of COVID guidelines.

“Covid Guidelines and Government Orders in place as of today indicate a policy of Blended Mode of education giving option to the students. For instance, clause d of the Circular issued by Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi dated October 29, 2021 specifically provides so. In complete disregard of the D extant policy, respondents chose to conduct offline mode of exams for all without any option for online exam,” the petition stated.

The plea further said that preceding the exams for Major subjects in December 2021 are the exams for Minor subjects in November 2021 in physical mode. This will further aggravate the likelihood of turning the exams for Major subjects into a super spreader.

“About 26000 Schools are affiliated to CBSE Board alone. 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,” it was submitted.

Hybrid mode of exams better facilitates social distancing reducing the strain on logistical constraints, the plea added.

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