CBSE and Supreme Court
CBSE and Supreme Court
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[Breaking] Class X, XII Board exams cancelled; optional Class XII exams may be held when COVID-19 situation improves: CBSE to Supreme Court

Taking a cue from the CBSE's stand, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) also said that it would cancel this year's Board exams.

Debayan Roy

The Supreme Court was informed today that this year's Class X and XII Board exams held by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) stand cancelled as a result of the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.

The Court was, however, was also apprised that optional Class XII exams may be conducted when the situation improves. Students who opt out of taking these exams will be assessed on the basis of previous exams.

Taking a cue from the CBSE's stand, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) also said that it would cancel this year's Board exams.

Dinesh Maheshwari, AM khanwilkar, Sanjiv Khanna
Dinesh Maheshwari, AM khanwilkar, Sanjiv Khanna

A three-judge Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna was hearing a plea seeking the cancellation of this year's CBSE exams, filed by the parents of students scheduled to appear for their Class XII Board exams in July.

At the outset of today's hearing, counsel for the petitioner, Advocate Rishi Malhotra, stated that Maharashtra, Delhi and Odisha have indicated their ability to conduct CBSE exams this year.

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta made it clear that the affidavit filed by CBSE today states that the Class X and XII Board exams scheduled for July 1 stand cancelled.

Mehta further elaborated that CBSE has a scheme by which marks scored in the past three exams will be taken into account. He also stated that Class XII exams would be conducted "as soon as situation is conducive." Further,

"Marks for students who opt for Class XII exams will have that marks as final."

Those who opt out of the exams that might be held in the future, will be assessed according to the exams they took in the past.

It was also made clear that the Class X board exams were cancelled, and that there would be no optional exams for Class X students.

The Bench, however, asked the CBSE to clarify its stance in the reply filed before the Court. Calling for clarity, Justice Khanwilkar said,

"If you see the dates, you will hold exams for Class 12 sometime. So dates for other exams need to be postponed."

To this, SG Mehta replied,

"Admissions now will be only on the basis of the assessment. They can apply on the basis of assessment."

Mehta added that the result on the basis of the assessment of both Class X and XII students will be published by July 15.

Malhotra then suggested,

"So far as assessment is concerned, in CBSE, all papers have practical and theory component. Practicals are over. Theory is left. They can take average of practical and grant total marks."

However, the Bench refused to issue a direction to CBSE in this regard.

The Bench then directed Mehta to mention the date of announcement of results and a detailed timeline in the notification itself. Mehta replied that the notification would be issued latest by tomorrow.

Advocate Sandeep Jindal then sought postponement of competitive exams, citing the example of the IIM Rohtak entrance test scheduled for June 28.

However, Justice Khanwilkar said,

"Let the aggrieved persons of this course come before us...We cannot run educational institutions from here. Our orders will have cascading effect on others. Issue is board exams and we are not going into anything else."

Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing for ICSE, submitted that the Board has sought a transfer of the case from the Bombay High Court to the Supreme Court.

On the last date of hearing, the Court had granted the ICSE liberty to follow the decision taken by the CBSE, with necessary changes.

Today, Gupta submitted that ICSE was in principle agreeable to the CBSE proposition. He said,

"We will also cancel the Class 10 and Class 12 exams. We will declare the assessment results at once. Later, we may hold the board exams."

Justice Khanwilkar then asked SG Mehta,

"You have mentioned exams will be conducted when situation is conducive. But this can vary from state to state. Will this decision be taken by Centre or the state?"

Mehta replied that the decision would be taken on a Central level.

The Court then said,

"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. This will have repercussions on other exams."

Justice AM Khanwilkar

The matter will be heard tomorrow at 10:30 am.

The petitioners in the CBSE case had highlighted that according to data by AIIMS, the COVID-19 pandemic would be at its peak in India during this time. In this light, it would be a huge risk to hold Board exams from July 1 even though the number of exam centres stands increased and the authorities have assured that proper safety will be maintained, the plea states.

The petition also highlighted the various practical difficulties that will be posed should the exams be conducted as scheduled.

These include difficulties that a student from containment zones will face in order to leave the area to attend the exam centre and unavailability of private vehicles for all students to reach their exam centres.

Another petition filed through Advocate-on-Record and Khaitan & Co Partner Vanita Bhargava was tagged with the main petition. This plea also calls for the Board exams of Class X and XII students to be cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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