Expressing concern for students appearing for their board exams, the Bombay high court said on Friday that they shouldn’t have to face power cuts at exam centres, because of load shedding.
The division bench of justices AS Oka and GS Kulkarni was hearing a contempt petition which contended that earlier orders of the court on the issue had not been followed by the state and other authorities.
In 2009, the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) and Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission were directed to find a solution to the problem of electricity cuts at exam centres. “We will direct the state to provide generators at every centre,” said the bench. “Lakhs of students write the exams. It is the duty of the state to provide [them].”
The court then asked the counsel for the board to provide ‘comprehensive data’ on centres where there is no power at all, as well as centres prone to load shedding.
The next scheduled set of board exams are for repeater candidates, and will begin at the end of September. More than 50,000 students will be appearing for the exams, from Mumbai division alone. “We want to ensure that every centre has electricity, for this exam,” said the bench.
Prashant Chavan, counsel for MSEDCL, said it was bound by central directions on power distribution. The bench said it was not feasible to expect schools to buy generators. Kiran Gandhi, counsel for the state board, said that it had provided funds for this in October 2009, but had still not been refunded for the same.
“Students prepare for exams, go to the centre and find no electricity; what happens to such students?” asked the bench.
The bench also wanted to know from MSEDCL if load shedding is stopped during festivals. The bench has also directed the secretary of the education department to be present at the next hearing, scheduled for next week.