Nearly 300 Class XII students write to CJI asking him to call CBSE's decision to conduct offline exams 'impractical'

Students in the letter petition call the CBSE's decision to conduct offline exams "unjustified but also impractical"
Pic: Edex Live
Pic: Edex Live

Around 300 students across the country have written to the Chief Justice of India asking the Supreme Court to take suo moto cognisance in the matter of conducting offline Class XII board exams in the middle of a raging pandemic. The petition asks the apex court to quash the decision taken by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to conduct physical examinations and instead direct the evaluation of "Class XII students on the basis of alternative modes/online exams, so as to do complete, equal and fair justice to the students and to exclude the possibility of discrimination, disadvantage and risk of life".

The Education Ministry and the CBSE are set to declare their final decision on this matter by June 1, for which they had asked for detailed suggestions from students, parents, state education secretaries until May 25.

One of the student petitioners, who wanted to remain anonymous, told Edex, "Our voices are not being heard by the government. We have been asking for the cancellation of the Class XII exams for a long time now, even on social media, especially on Twitter. But they don't seem to pay heed. So, filing the petition was our last resort. In this current situation, offline exams will be equivalent to jumping into a well. We do not want to risk our lives. We are waiting for the ministry and the board's decision and then we will decide on what to do next."

An advocate at the Supreme Court of India, Tanvi Dubey, who is representing these students, told us, "Through the petition, we are seeking suo-moto cognisance on the issue, in terms of our next step, we will have to wait and see if the CJI is doing so. We will make a decision after that whether we want to file a PIL or a writ petition. The ministry is yet to declare its decision, however, we have certain sources that tell us the exams will go ahead in the offline mode with a variation in the pattern. But we will have to wait for the formal announcement."

The petition calls the board's decision to conduct offline exams "unjustified but also impractical" and states "if executed will be a disastrous step, which will have a cascading effect to the life, health and safety of millions of students, parents, teachers and support staff". The students also add that the continuous postponement of the exam will have a serious repercussion on the academic career. "We are writing to you in the circumstances when the COVID cases have reached numbers that are unprecedented. Many students have lost their parents and family members. The sudden upsurge has left us with no other option but to stay indoors. The postponement of the Board examination has created a cloud of uncertainty in the minds of thousands of students and is taking them backward rather than forward. The postponement of the exam has a serious repercussion on the academic career of the students as they are deprived of applying to foreign universities and also apply for entrance examination for different colleges," it said.

The petition further went on to say that, "In an event where students are forced to appear in the examination, who is going to take the responsibility in case the examination centre proves to be hotspots? The Government and the CBSE might want to consider this if they will take responsibility of the students in case they are infected with the deadly virus." Finally, the students ask the CJI to pass this order as deemed fit and "issue appropriate direction in order to avoid unfair, unjust and unequal treatment to the students

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