New Delhi, August 20: The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere with the decision of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to conduct compartment exams for students of Class X and Class XII. The Court allowed the petitioner students to file a fresh petition challenging the August 6 decision of the Board rejecting their representation to cancel the examinations.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar was hearing an application filed by several students aggrieved by the CBSE decision of August 6 dismissing their representation to consider scrapping of the exams, Hindustan Times reported. The students led by Anika Samvedi had filed the petition in July with the demand to scrap compartment exams. On July 31, the apex court passed an order allowing the students to move a representation to CBSE in this regard.
On August 6, CBSE issued a notification in response to their representation and stuck by its decision to hold exams. Although, the dates for the examination were not specified, the CBSE said that if the request of the petitioner students was accepted it would harm the interests of other Class X and XII students.
The students moved a fresh application in the apex court seeking cancellation of exams after their representation was rejected by CBSE. But the bench, also comprising of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna was of the firm view that the August 6 representation has to be separately challenged.
The bench said, “A substantive petition needs to be filed to assail the August 6 CBSE notification. The CBSE has already given its reasons. You file that notification. We will give you the liberty.” In other words, the Court has asked the students to file a fresh petition challenging the August 6 CBSE notification.
While this is not the end of the road for the students, the wait has certainly prolonged. The students in their petition claimed, “in view of the rising cases of COVID-19 pandemic it shall be impossible for the CBSE to take the compartment examinations soon.” In all, close to 1.50 lakh students from Class X and over 87000 students in Class XII are expected to appear for the compartment exams. These examinations are held to enable students who failed in any subjects to reappear and clear the subjects.
In addition to the petition pending in the Court, an association of 809 students has written a letter to the Supreme Court asking the judges to take suo moto notice of the CBSE decision to hold compartment exams amid rising COVID-19 cases and consider scrapping the same. The Court is yet to consider this letter.
In a related development, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court has sought response from the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) to provide an opportunity to failed Class IX and XI students of CISCE to appear for re-test. The order was passed on a petition filed by a Class 11 ISCE student, represented by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava.
The same bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar directed the ICSE to file its response within a week and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.
Srivastava argued that the CISCE should provide an opportunity of re-assessment to promote the failed students of Class 9 and 11. He cited a May 13 notification issued by the CBSE which gave re-assessment option to similarly placed students in order to promote them to Class X and XII.
The plea put forth the argument that students of CBSE and CISCE deserve to be treated equally and questioned different standards of assessment by the two Boards. It was a violation of Article 14 right of the students, Srivastava argued. The petition even prayed to the Court to allow the petitioner (Class XI student) to be directly promoted in the event there is delay on part of CISCE to adopt CBSE’s May 13 notification.
As per the CBSE decision, a school-based test will be held to promote the failed students in Class 9th and 11th standards as a “one-time measure” considering the request of parents and students and the extraordinary situation due to COVID-19.