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SC gives CBSE 2 weeks for evaluation formula

ByAbraham Thomas, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jun 04, 2021 03:44 AM IST

Attorney general KK Venugopal, who appeared for the Centre, shared an official communication intimating the court about the cancellation.

The Supreme Court on Thursday set a two-week deadline for the Centre to come up with a “well-defined objective criteria” for the assessment of Class 12 students of the Central Bureau of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) following the cancellation of their examinations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Centre on Tuesday cancelled the CBSE Class 12 examinations and ended uncertainty for roughly 1.4 million students who were to appear in them.(Raj K Raj/HT Photos)
The Centre on Tuesday cancelled the CBSE Class 12 examinations and ended uncertainty for roughly 1.4 million students who were to appear in them.(Raj K Raj/HT Photos)

Attorney general KK Venugopal, who appeared for the Centre, shared an official communication intimating the court about the cancellation.

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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 was taken on 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 that the decision was pending as the government needed to determine 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, appearing 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. Venugopal, however, agreed to a two-week deadline after the court said that in the age of videoconferencing, a decision could even be taken overnight.

The court told Das that students were concerned about college admissions not just in India but abroad as well. “Impress upon your clients that this is a matter of urgent basis,” it said.

The Centre on Tuesday cancelled the CBSE Class 12 examinations and ended uncertainty for roughly 1.4 million students who were to appear in them.

The decision was taken at a meeting chared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid appeals by students and parents, who feared the exams could be a superspreader event particularly because those under the age of 18 are not eligible for vaccination yet. Hours later, CISCE also scrapped its Class 12 exams or ISE exams. The CBSE and ICSE Class 10 board exams were cancelled in April.

The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned the matter to June 17, and said that it was mindful of the interest of students in schools affiliated to state boards, and will address their concerns after the objective assessment for CBSE and CISCE was settled.

The court’s deadline came on a petition filed by advocate Mamata Sharma, who sought an objective assessment scheme within a specified time frame.

The petitioner referred to state boards, pointed out that most of them were 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 and CISCE only but was now “asking for heaven”.

“Interests of the student community will be taken care of... First let us settle for CBSE, CISCE and then we will go into other issues,” it said.

Last year, the top court faced a similar predicament when a demand was made to scrap Class 12 Board examinations. The petition by Amit Bathla and others came up at a stage when some subject examinations were yet to be held. After the court’s intervention, CBSE scrapped Class 10 exams. It devised an assessment scheme for Class 12 based on papers already given and their overall performance in the year.

Jyoti Arora, principal of Mount Abu Public School in New Delhi’s Rohini, said, “A well defined objective criterion as stated in the decision of cancellation of examinations requires a lot of deliberation and discussion. It requires time to come up with a criteria to ensure objectivity and satisfaction.”

AK Jha, principal of a Delhi government co-ed school, said sufficient time is required to make an “error free” criterion.

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