New Delhi: Class 12 and 10 exams of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which were scheduled to be held in July, have been cancelled in view of the rising Covid-19 cases, the board informed the Supreme Court Thursday.
Instead, Class 12 students will be assessed on the basis of the marks they scored in the previous three exams, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the board, told a three-judge bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar. The board, however, said it might conduct the exam at a later date, depending on the situation, but it would be optional for students to take.
For Class 10 students, there will be no exams at all, Mehta added, and results of the board papers will be declared no later than 15 July.
Taking a cue from CBSE, the Indian Certificate Secondary Education (ICSE) also told the court it will cancel the remaining papers for its Class 12 and 10 students. At the last hearing, the ICSE board had agreed to follow the CBSE stand.
Court asks for clarity
The bench sought more clarity from Mehta on a few aspects, including making the exam optional, publication of results, whether the Centre or state boards would take a decision on holding the exam and when the new academic year would start.
It asked Mehta to place before the court the CBSE’s notification at 10:30 am Friday for its perusal, following which the final orders will be issued.
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Though the CBSE had given its affidavit to the court spelling out its plan for students, the solicitor took liberty to make changes to the notification in court for more clarity on what the board was offering.
“You need to make some changes in the reply. The language needs to be improvised. There should be no confusion,” the bench said.
“You will keep the essence the same and file a fresh one giving more clarity and details about the process,” it told Mehta.
Decision based on state logistics
Solicitor General Mehta told the court the CBSE’s decision was based on inputs from various states.
“We took this decision due to logistic issues. Many schools are quarantine centres. Parents are also worried. Thus, the mental equilibrium stands affected,” he submitted.
On CBSE’s proposal to hold the remaining Class 12 papers when the situation improves, the bench remarked that the “situation may vary from state to state”.
“You say exams will be conducted when the situation is conducive. But this can vary from state to state. Will this decision be taken by the Centre or the state? Like in Maharashtra, they are not able to conduct it (exam),” the bench noted.
Mehta said the decision would likely be the Centre’s, but said he preferred to seek proper instructions to answer the court.
To the bench’s query on whether CBSE had regional boards, the solicitor replied there was one at the central level that got assistance from state boards.
“Let us pass formal orders tomorrow. You can file a fresh notification too and clear instructions that a final decision of a later exam will be taken at the central level and not at state level,” the bench said.
Clarity on new academic year, college admissions
The Supreme Court noted that having an exam later than July would have repercussions on entrance tests for graduate-level courses.
When asked how admissions to colleges would take place, Mehta said it will be based on assessments. The bench then said: “There needs to be more clarity (in the notification).”
The court refused to issue specific orders to the board on the request of advocate Rishi Malhotra, who on behalf of parents, suggested CBSE take the average of marks scored in practical papers of those subjects where the theory component is left.
“We cannot direct the nuances to CBSE,” the court said. Mehta asserted CBSE was taking help of experts to fine-tune these issues.
Advocate Malhotra, who was representing parents, then requested the court to order declaration of the results by June-end. He said several entrance exams are lined up and a delay would affect the new academic year for students. If the results cannot be declared in time, the court should cancel such tests, he argued.
Asking Mehta to spell out a response to this concern of parents, the bench said it would be open for aggrieved persons to approach the court separately.
Senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing for ICSE, said the autonomous body will follow the CBSE’s pattern for its students.
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