Published: 24th June 2021
Why can't you follow the other boards? SC asks AP Govt over its decision to hold physical Class 12 exams
The SC expressed a lack of conviction with the state's decision that said they will follow COVID safety protocols while conducting the board exams in the last week of July
The Supreme Court vehemently questioned the Andhra Pradesh government over its decision to hold physical Class 12 examinations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The apex court directed the state to submit file recordings that can help establish how the decision to hold board exams had been taken and whether all prevailing pandemic conditions were examined. "Even one fatality, we may order compensation amounting to one crore,'' the SC warned and asked, "The other boards have cancelled it. There is no reason why this board can't follow it just because it wants to show it is different."
A vacation bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari expressed a lack of conviction with the state government's affidavit which stated that COVID safety protocols will be followed to the utmost with only 15 students being seated in a single exam hall. With nearly five lakh students expected to take the exams, the bench observed that there should be at least 30,000 exam halls with 15 students per hall. The bench then asked Advocate Mahfooz Nazki, counsel representing the AP state government, if the state has come out with any "concrete formula" to ensure that there are so many halls available. "How are you going to arrange for over 28,000 rooms with 15 students per hall? Do you have a formula for that? You will require over 35,000 rooms if it is 15 students per hall, do you have so many rooms?" Justice Khanwilkar asked during the hearing.
The bench also added that the AP government was putting the students in uncertainty by not laying down a specific timeline for exams and results. "You can't keep things so uncertain like this? You have to give at least 15 days notice. When are you going to do this?" Justice Maheshwari asked.
The bench also mentioned that the college admissions for AP board students will get delayed if they insist on holding exams in the last week of July. "You cannot have uncertainty for declaring results [sic]. We will direct UGC to declare a cut-off for admissions. Just because your board has not conducted that cannot be a ground for not starting admissions in your state. Other board students will get admissions, and your state board students will lag behind." the bench added.
Finally, the SC asked the state government whether they have a "contingency plan" if the pandemic situation worsens in the middle of the proposed dates for the exams. The court will hear the case again on Friday, June 25 at 2 pm.