Supreme Court Supports CBSE board on its Decision

The Supreme Court on Friday accepted the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) decision to scrap the examinations for Classes 10 and 12 scheduled to be held from July 1 to July 15, and gave a green signal to the alternative assessment scheme prepared by the board.

The results, based on the new scheme, will be declared by July 15.

“As regards CBSE examinations, the CBSE has presented a draft notification for our consideration. After perusing the same and taking into account the suggestions given by the counsel appearing for the concerned parties, we see no difficulty in permitting CBSE to issue the said notification forthwith,” the bench, led by justice AM Khanwilkar and also comprising justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, said in its order.

The order was notified by CBSE on its website immediately after the conclusion of the hearing.

Before Covid-19 forced the suspension of examinations, at least 23 papers were pending for Class 12 students [12 across India and 11 in northeast Delhi]; while the six pending papers for Class 10 were only for students in north-east Delhi schools, where communal riots earlier in the year forced the process to be pushed back.

HT reported on the Friday that the assessments, under the new scheme for the cancelled papers, will work in the following way: If a student appeared for more than three subjects before the examinations were suspended, an average score will be calculated taking into account the three subjects in which the student scored highest. This will be allotted to the remaining subjects. For those who appeared in three examinations, the average will be based on the two highest scoring subjects and allotted to the remaining papers. For those who appeared in less than 3 exams, results will be calculated based on the marks in the appeared subjects along with their performance in internal/ practical/ project assessment.

CBSE said it will also conduct an optional examination for Class 12 students — in subjects where exams were cancelled — when conditions become “conducive”. Students can opt to write this optional exam if they wish to improve the score secured based on the assessment scheme.

Since admissions to higher education institutions are either based on marks scored in school graduating examinations or require pass percentage in such examinations, the CBSE’s scheme and the court’s order will now enable students to apply and seek admissions in higher education institutions in India and abroad, once the results are declared on July 15.

Officials in the Delhi University (DU) on Friday said that they would consider the board’s alternative plan of evaluation for these subjects.

After the CBSE halted the exams due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it came out with a notification on May 18 saying exams for the remaining subjects would be held from July 1 to July 15.

This was challenged before the Supreme Court by four parents who submitted that their children would be exposed to Covid-19 if they were to appear for the exam.

“The [CBSE] notification for holding of the remaining examinations and that too in the month of July 2020, wherein as per the AIIMS data, the said COVID-19 pandemic would be at its peak, is arbitrary,” the petition had stated.

Solicitor general (SG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBSE, informed the top court on Thursday about the decision taken by the board to scrap the remaining examinations. He had also filed an affidavit setting out the assessment scheme.

The court had then kept the matter for hearing on Friday for passing appropriate orders.

The Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), which holds the ICSE (Class 10) and ISC (Class 12) examinations, also accepted the suggestions of CBSE. The remaining ICSE and ISC examinations were scheduled from July 1 to 14, but have now been cancelled.

Senior counsel Jaideep Gupta, appearing for CISCE, told the court on Friday that it will extend the choice of giving optional exam to Class 10 students in addition to Class 12 students. The ICSE and ISC assessment scheme (for calculating marks for cancelled subjects) will also be different for that of CBSE, and will be notified on the website of CISCE within a week, Gupta told the court.

“Rest of the stipulations in the draft notification of CBSE, referred to above, are acceptable to ICSE in principle, which would be reflected in the proposed notification to be issued by the ICSE in that behalf,” the court said.

“It is a historical moment. The Supreme Court by its intervention ensured that right to life of students is protected and I am thankful to the court for the same. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and I have to thank CBSE which did not treat this petition as an adversarial litigation. It came out with a pro-student scheme which could find use in future too”, advocate Rishi Malhotra, who represented the parents before the Supreme Court, told HT.

Delhi Parents’ Association president Aparajita Gautam said parents are mostly relieved by the order since they were not in the favour of students appearing for their exams amid the pandemic.

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