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Clarifying the difference from the CBSE's stand, ICSE said that it may decide to give the optional exam facility to Class X students as well.
The Supreme Court today accepted the notification issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) confirming that Class X and Class XII Board exams would stand cancelled in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
A three-judge Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna also disposed of all litigation on the subject matter pending in other courts.
Yesterday, the Court stated that it would pass formal orders in the matter on Friday after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBSE and the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, submitted that Class X and XII Board exams stood 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 three previous exams.
CBSE vide it's notofication has informed the top court that some of the important areas of the marks averaging mechanism would be:
(a) For the students of both classes-X and XII, who have completed all their examinations, their results will be declared based on their performance in the examinations.
(b) For students who have appeared in the examinations in more than 3 subjects, the average of the marks obtained in best three performing subjects will be awarded in the subjects whose examinations have not been conducted.
(c) For students who have appeared in the examinations in only 3 subjects, the average of the marks obtained in the best two performing subjects will be awarded in the subjects whose examinations have not been conducted.
At the start of today's hearing, Advocate Rishi Malhotra, appearing for the petitioners, suggested that here should be clause stating that the students can opt to take the exam within 15 days of publication of results based on the previous assessment.
Stating that CBSE was pro-student, SG Mehta said,
"If the situation becomes conducive in September, then the student can decide in October too."
Justice Khanwilkar then suggested that CBSE could scrap these optional exams at a later date, depending on the situation. Mehta agreed to this, saying,
"Yes, they may say it's too late."
Taking a cue from the CBSE's stand, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) had also previously said that it would cancel this year's Board exams.
Appearing for the ICSE today, Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta stated,
"We have seen CBSE's affidavit. We largely agree, but our averaging formula will not be the same like CBSE."
Clarifying the difference from the CBSE's stand, Gupta said that ICSE may decide to give the optional exam facility to Class X students as well.
Advocate Shoumendu Mukherjee added that results based on assessment of previous exams would be released by July 15.
When Mukherjee brought up the pending litigation before the Bombay High Court, the Bench said,
"Do not worry about other cases. It will be taken care if in our order and all those matters will stand disposed off. The subject matter will be taken care of since you accepted CBSE's proposal."
The Bench then proceeded to pronounce its order, stating,
It went on to hold,
"ICSE may conduct optional exams for both Class X and XII. It is submitted that the assessment scheme would be slightly different than CBSE and will be notified in the website within one week."
SG Mehta said that the notification would be uploaded online within an hour of passing this order.
The Bench also made it clear that this order only deals with CBSE and ICSE exams and would not impact other litigation.
On the last date of hearing, one of clarifications sought by the Bench was whether CBSE intended to cancel exams pan-India without state intervention.
The Bench had 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."
The Bench 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 today.
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 the scheduled date of the exams. 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.
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.
[Read the notification issued by CBSE]