The Madras High Court on Monday questioned the Tamil Nadu state government on its plan to conduct Class 10 board exams on June 15, thereby risking the lives of nine lakh students and two lakh teachers amidst the pandemic.
The HC also asked what will the government do in case even one of the 9 lakh students contracts COVID-19 infection, apart from announcing compensations.
The High Court bench comprising Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice R Suresh Kumar while hearing a case filed by the Tamil Nadu High and Higher Secondary School Graduate Teachers Association told the government to file a status report on postponing the Class 10 exams.
In the petition submitted before the High Court, the main petitioner and president of the Association Bakthavatchalam said the government has identified 12, 548 schools for holding board exams but as per order if 10 students should be seated in a class, for 9.79 lakh students the state requires 97,000 classrooms.
Advocate General Vijay Narayan appearing for the government argued that this was the ideal time for conducting exams since the coronavirus cases are likely to increase in the state.
The Advocate General said that all precautionary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 while conducting the Class 10 exams are already in place. The senior counsel also said that cases can increase up to 2 lakh by October and November and hence the government would like to conduct the exams now.
Arguing for the petitioner, Senior Counsel NR Elango said that before conducting exams, special online or virtual classes should be conducted in schools so that it will help students to recollect their portions.
Taking a note of this, the High Court said that the Class 10 exams cannot be conducted like reopening TASMAC shops and the Court cannot allow the government to conduct the Class 10 exams.
Recording the observations, the High Court asked the government to think if postponing the exams would be feasible and file a status report on the decision. Meanwhile, the HC also told parents and students to think about postponing the exams as coronavirus cases are set to increase in the coming days. Further, the High Court adjourned the case for hearing to June 11.
The exam saga till now
The Class 10 exams were initially scheduled to take place between March 27 and April 13. However, as the Central government announced a nationwide lockdown on March 24, the board exams were postponed.
The Tamil Nadu School Education Minister Sengottaiyan later announced that the class 10 exam will be conducted between June 1 and June 15. Amidst the pandemic, the decision of the government to conduct exams gained widespread opposition from political parties, teachers, parents and students. Owing to this opposition, Sengottaiyan rescheduled the exams, and said they would begin on June 15.
Opposing this, many cases were filed in the Madras High Court seeking the Courtâ€™s intervention to postpone the exams further. Another bench of the Madras High Court hearing a petition filed by educationalist Vasanthi Devi seeking to defer the class 10 exams has also been postponed for further hearing to June 11.