Rightly has the Supreme Court turned down the petition seeking the hybrid option, instead of merely the offline praxis, for students who appear for the board examinations in Classes 10 and 12. The petitioner had sought a blend of the offline and online systems. Thursday’s judgment (coram: AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar, JJ) obviously seeks to ensure uniformity in the conduct and evaluation of candidates.
As two sets of answers are bound to impinge on evaluation, the Bench has refused to direct the CBSE and CISCE to provide the “hybrid option” on the ground that it would not be appropriate to disturb the examination process in the eleventh hour. “Don’t mess up with the education system. Let the authorities continue to do their job,” the Bench observed.
After a year’s chaotic instability in matters academic, the court noted that the first term of the CBSE board exams had started on 16 November, while the first semester of the CISCE board was scheduled to begin on 22 November.
The Bench said it “hopes and trusts” that the authorities would take all precautions to ensure that no candidate is exposed to “anything untoward” during the exams. Ergo, a modification of the examination pattern at this stage is bound to confuse students and arguably lead to discrimination in the process of evaluation.
No one denies that the pandemic still persists; but it is too late in the day to issue a revised circular on the revised mode. It shall confuse a large section of stakeholders, notably candidates at the threshold of the transition from school to college, the teachers and also, of course, the paper-setters, moderators and examiners. “The examinations cannot be rescheduled at this stage,” the Bench observed while turning down the petition. The hybrid option cannot counter the possible uncertainty. Such an option could well result in a chaotic situation, to quote the Bench, not the least because an estimated 34 lakh students are appearing for the two exams across the country.
Granted that Covid-19, according to counsel, is an “evolving situation”, the submission has been countered by the Bench with the observation that “this last-minute business should be discouraged”. Uniformity in the conduct of an exam and evaluation of answer papers is terribly important ~ “Let us be very practical about it. The examinations have already started. How can it be made online now?” the Bench asked counsel.
The petition had stated: “The exams directly relate to the mental health of the petitioners requiring a conducive and voluntary atmosphere to ensure a fair assessment.
It is common knowledge that the third wave of the Covid pandemic is predicted”. After more than a year of chaotic instability, the Supreme Court is rightly riveted to ensuring uniformity of standards. Thursday’s order signifies assertion instead of tinkering.