The Supreme Court on Thursday set a two-week deadline for the Centre to come up with a “well defined objective criteria” for assessment of Class 12 students of the Central Bureau of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) following the cancellation of their examinations.
Attorney general KK Venugopal, who appeared for the Centre, shared an official communication intimating the court about the cancellation.
A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said they were happy over the “in principle” decision to cancel the examinations but asked the government why no decision had been taken with regard to the criteria of assessment. “…what will be the objective criteria to assess students. It has not been spelt out in your letter,” the bench said.
Venugopal said a decision in this regard was still pending as the government needed to settle whether to include the performance from Class 10 onwards or restrict the assessment to Class 12 alone. “There is another issue of which subjects to assess. All this may take at least three weeks.”
Senior advocate JK Das, who appeared for CISCE, sought four weeks to come out with a scheme. “This time unlike last year, we have asked for data from all principals with regard to all subjects,” Das said.
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Venugopal agreed to the two-week deadline after the court said in the age of videoconferencing, a decision could even be taken overnight.
The court told Das students were concerned about admissions to higher education courses not just here but abroad as well. “Impress upon your clients that this is a matter of urgent basis.”
The Centre on Tuesday cancelled the CBSE Class 12 examinations in view of the second Covid-19 wave and ended uncertainty for roughly 1.4 million students, who were to appear in them.
The decision was taken at a meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired on Tuesday amid appeals by students, who feared the exams could end up infecting them because those under 18 are not currently eligible for vaccination.
Hours later, CISCE also scrapped its Class 12 exams or ISE exams. The CBSE Class 10 board exams were cancelled in April.
The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned the matter until June 17 and said it was mindful of the interest of students at schools affiliated to state boards and will address their concerns after the objective assessment for CBSE, CISCE is settled.
The court’s deadline came on a petition filed by advocate Mamata Sharma, who had sought an objective assessment scheme within a specified time frame.
The petitioner referred to state boards and said most of them are yet to cancel the Class 12 examination and sought uniform directions for students across the country.
The court asked Sharma to be patient and said her petition sought directions for Class 12 students of CBSE, CISCE only but was now “asking for heaven”.
“Interests of student community will be taken care of whether CBSE, CISCE or state boards. First let us settle for CBSE, CISCE and then we will go into other issues.”
The CBSE put forward two options for holding Class 12 examinations at a meeting the Centre last month held with representatives of state governments. Under the first option, examinations would be conducted for major subjects at the designated examination centres. CBSE suggested marks for minor subjects could be calculated based on a student’s performance in major subjects. It also proposed two-hour exams (instead of three) at schools where students were studying. Most states preferred the second option while some expressed reservations over holding the physical examination.