The Supreme Court has rejected the plea by Class 10 and 12 students who had sought for Class 10 and 12 CBSE - ICSE Term I exams to be held in hybrid/virtual mode. Six students of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) had filed this petition.
Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde, who presented the case to the apex court, argued that the COVID-19 pandemic is still there and students attend congregational events, thus it is not safe for exams to be conducted in a physical mode.
Senior Advocate SG Tushar Mehta told the SC bench comprising of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar that no exams in hybrid mode were conducted last year. There were 14 lakh students in Class 10 and 20 lakh students in Class 12, he added.
"Without disturbing the process of the exam, we can deploy more measures for safety," concluded Mehta.
SC conveyed, "Exams are going on. Let us be practical." The bench asked Hedge, "Now, how can it be made online?"
Hegde stated that important papers such as languages, maths, and science are crowded. "Now only minor papers are held. Please allow those of us who seek to avail a hybrid model to avail the same," argued Hedge.
The apex court stated that it is too late now to shift to hybrid mode and that exams cannot be rescheduled.
The 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.
The SC further added, "At this level, giving hope to students has to be discouraged. Don't mess up with the education system. Let the authorities continue their work."
The petitioners have argued that offline exams put students at risk of contracting COVID-19 infection. They had demanded for exams to be held in hybrid mode i.e. both online and offline.
"Continuous exposure through offline exams sharply increases the risk of infection from Covid-19, rendering the impugned action as arbitrary and in violation of the Right to Health," the petitioners have said.
"Preceding the exams for major subjects in December 2021 are the exams for minor subjects in November 2021 in physical mode, further aggravating the likelihood of turning the exams for major subjects into a super spreader event," the petitioners conveyed.
They argued that hybrid mode of examination is the need of the hour, as it better facilitates social distancing, reduced strain on logistical constraint.
The petitioners have also claimed that many parents have reported that consent for allowing their children to sit in these exams is being secured through "misrepresentation and coercion".
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