The Karnataka High Court on Monday, July 12, dismissed a petition challenging the state government’s decision to hold Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) exams in July. The court refused to interfere with the government’s decision to hold physical exams. The SSLC exams will now be held on July 19 and 22 based on the SSLC Examination Boards schedule.
The division bench, comprising Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Hanchate Sanjeev Kumar, noted that the PIL seeking the cancellation of the exams lacked merit. The court observed that conducting the exams is in the interest of students and noted that the state had taken measures with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Karnataka High Court said that any student has to face one board exam. “That is in the interest of the student. It is for his profession, vocations. Parameters were different for PUC.”
The state informed the High Court that the exams were being held keeping COVID-19 safety norms in place. The exams will be held for only two days and will last three hours, from 10.30 am to 1.30 PM. The state has also condensed all Class 10 subjects into two exam papers of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ). The state will hold examinations for core subjects — Maths, Science and Social Science — on July 19 and an exam on languages on July 22. Students who miss these two exams will be allowed to appear again later. The state also submitted to the court that the COVID-19 positivity rate in the state was at 1.48 %.
The petition challenging the state’s decision to hold physical exams was filed by SV Singre Gowda of the Gana Mandira Education Trust. The petitioner had sought the quashing of the exam notification and time table issued for the SSLC exams for the academic year 2020-2021. The petitioner had sought directions from the court passing all SSLC students, irrespective of repeaters, either based on the marks obtained in Classes 8 and 9, or passing all the students based on measures taken by other states.
The petitioner pointed out that exams for Class 10 students have been cancelled in most states and added that the CBSE also has cancelled its board exams for Class 10 and 12. The petitioner argued that the Union government is yet to roll out any vaccination drive for children. The petition also stated that the parents of students are anxious to send children to attend the exams.
The court told the petitioner that July was an ideal time to hold the exams. “If they don’t want to attend the exam, let them not. Now they can attend exam with a board exam certificate. This is a boon!” the Karnataka High Court told the petitioner.
When the petitioner pointed out that only Karnataka will be holding the exams while the rest of India has cancelled the exams, the High Court responded by saying that it was a policy decision of the state. The High Court said that for NEET and CBSE Board exams, the pandemic was at its peak and raging in May but the situation has improved since then. The court said the decision was arrived at after consultation with experts and that it was the choice of the students to attend or not attend the exam.
The Advocate General for Karnataka, Prabhuling Navadgi, told the court that only 12 students will be allowed per classroom with one desk per student. The state has assured the High Court that social distancing and health screening will be carried out at examination centers. Two paramedical staff will also be stationed at these schools. The state assured the court that all students who appear for the exams will be declared as passed, “We leave it to the choice of the parents. If they want to send their child, let them. We don’t know if tomorrow morning, we will get up or not. No one can predict.” Navadgi told the court.