A vacation bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Surendra Tavade on May 20 had heard a challenge to the state’s May 12 decision to cancel the exams for nearly 16 lakh students due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In its order released on Tuesday, the judges directed that the state’s reply will also set out as to how Class X students will be uniformly evaluated “keeping in view the fact that every school has a different standard of evaluation and no school is allowed to declare the student as failed up to 8th standard, and in most of the schools there were no examinations in the academic year 2019-20 of students who were in Class IX.” The state will also explain how “they will ensure that the marks allotted at the school level are comparable across schools due to variation in the evaluation standards and mode of conduct of exams in the past years.”
The judges said despite the second wave of Covid-19 having hit around early April 2021, the state failed to make a decision and inform Class X students and their parents whether it was going to hold the exams or not and informed them as late as May 12 that exams will not be held. “It is unfortunate that without considering what we have stated herein, the state government has proceeded to straightaway cancel the SCC examination without deciding how the students who are in the Xth standard would be evaluated in the event of such cancellation,” they added.
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The judges pointed out that in comparison, boards like CBSE and ICSE had not only informed about cancellation of exams by the second week of April “but have also provided a very well-planned, comprehensive, and foolproof programme of how the students would be evaluated and promoted to the next class in a very fair and transparent manner.”
The judges said even after adjourning the hearing to know how students would be evaluated, government pleader Priyabhushan Kakade informed it “is not decided, thus leaving the students as well as their parents guessing about their/their ward’s future.” He sought time to take instructions and file a reply.
“Conduct of education department of the state government speaks volumes, and shows the scant regard and concern it has about vital educational policies which mold and shape the future of its children, who have reached the first milestone of their educational life, and based on the correct, fair and well-thought-out policy of assessment, will proceed to compete with other students in future,” they wrote. The judges adjourned the hearing “out of exasperation” to June 1 for the state’s reply.