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Confusing exams

The Bench is dealing with the PIL filed by the child rights activist, Anubha Srivastava Sahai, challenging the decision of the CBSE, ICSE and state boards to conduct this year’s exams through the physical mode. In a stunning observation, the Bench stated that no PIL can be filed on these issues as only an “aggrieved person” (aka the student) can file such a petition if his/her right is in any way violated.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

Amidst the controversy over the past two years over the online-offline mode of learning, stoutly has the Supreme Court (coram: AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravi Kumar, JJ) dismissed the plea to conduct board examinations for Classes 10 and 12 through the online matrix.

It thus comes about that it has virtually binned at the threshold a petition seeking this as “ill-advised and premature”, one that had caused what the Bench called “false hopes and confusion” among the students. The observation can be contextualized with the overwhelming confusion over the past two years from the primary to the post-graduate levels over the model of learning, given the reality that the online mode of instruction is beyond the means of many, most particularly in rural India and in a country whose economy is predominantly rural.

The Bench has noted that the authorities, such as the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) are yet to notify the rules, regulations and procedure for the conduct of this year’s exams through the “physical mode”. “As such no mandamus can be issued at this juncture.” And then the judicial punchline, “What kind of petitions are being filed?” was the sharp query of the Bench. “How can you keep filing such petitions? Such petitions can only confuse the students. This PIL has caused false hopes. It has caused a lot of confusion among the students all over.”

The Bench is dealing with the PIL filed by the child rights activist, Anubha Srivastava Sahai, challenging the decision of the CBSE, ICSE and state boards to conduct this year’s exams through the physical mode. In a stunning observation, the Bench stated that no PIL can be filed on these issues as only an “aggrieved person” (aka the student) can file such a petition if his/her right is in any way violated. Once the rules are finalized and if the decision of the authorities is “not in consonance with rules and regulations, then it is open to challenge and it shall be dealt with on its own merits.”

The Bench observed: “We will not issue any directions. There are rules and regulations in place and the authorities are working.” The response of the court was equally sharp when counsel contended that physical classes were not held for the entire year and there was no reason why the exams should be held in the present circumstances. This prompted the Bench to sternly ask counsel: “Who are you to decide. Or we to decide? Let the authorities decide the issue.”

On closer reflection, the pandemic has made confusion worse confounded in matters academic. The fact of the matter must be that online instruction has scarcely been suitably grasped before the students can be asked to appear for the exams, which cannot be conducted on the notion of conclusion to premise.