The Supreme Court on Thursday, November 18, refused to direct the CBSE and the CISCE to provide the option of hybrid mode, instead of only offline mode, to the students appearing in class 10 and 12 board examinations, saying it would not be appropriate to disturb the process at this stage. The apex court noted that term one board exams of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) have already commenced from November 16, while semester one of board exams of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) are to commence from November 22.
A bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the CBSE, that all precautions have been taken for conducting the board exams in offline mode and the number of examination centres have been increased from 6,500 to 15,000. The bench said it hopes and trusts that authorities will take all precautions and measures to ensure that no one is exposed to anything untoward in the examination process.
The top court was hearing a plea by six students seeking directions to the CBSE and the CISCE to issue a revised circular for conducting the ensuing class 10 and 12 board exams in the hybrid mode, instead of the offline mode only, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During the hearing, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the petitioners, told the bench that this is not adversarial and they are only requesting that the option of hybrid mode be also provided to the students to appear in the board examinations. Hegde said as per the experts, there is possibility of spread of virus at a place of congregation.
Mehta said there are around 34 lakh students who would be appearing in the classes 10 and 12 board examinations. The exams (of CBSE) have already started on November 16, Mehta said, adding that the authorities have taken care of the concern raised about possibility of spread of the virus. â€śLet us be very practical about it. The examinations have already started. How can it be made online now,â€ť the bench asked Hegde.
The senior advocate said that COVID-19 is an evolving situation and the students should be given the option of appearing in the board examinations through hybrid mode. â€śIt is too late now. It cannot be rescheduled at this stage. Examinations have started,â€ť the bench observed.
The plea, seeking a hybrid option in the ensuing board examination, had claimed that the entire exercise of the boards in conducting the term one or semester one examinations in offline mode only is patently unreasonable . The petition, filed through advocate Sumanth Nookala, had said that the board exams be conducted in hybrid mode with an option to choose between offline and online examinations.
â€śConsent assumes significance as exams directly relate to the mental health of the petitioners requiring a conducive and voluntary atmosphere to ensure a fair assessment. It is common knowledge that the third wave of COVID pandemic is predicted,â€ť it had said. The petition had claimed that the proposed current system of offline examination is fraught with bad planning and lack of application of mind which will further adversely prejudice the students. Even if the respondents (boards and others) wanted to conduct the examinations on the said dates, it had sufficient time and resources to plan it carefully and consider the concerns raised in the present petition, it had said.