20 May 2021 2:40 PM GMT
The Bombay High Court on Thursday came down heavily on the Maharashtra Government for its decision to cancel the Secondary School Certificate Examination for Class X. "In the name of pandemic, we can't spoil career and future of our children. The Framers of education policy should know that in the state. This isn't acceptable at all" Court orally said. A division bench...
"In the name of pandemic, we can't spoil career and future of our children. The Framers of education policy should know that in the state. This isn't acceptable at all" Court orally said.
A division bench of Justices SJ Khathawalla and SP Tavade was hearing a PIL challenging the State Government's decision to cancel the SSC exams, which were scheduled for March 2021.
During the hearing, the Counsel for the State PP Kakade stated that there are 3 streams, SSC,CBSE and ICSE and there's a need to fine equivalence while making admission. He added that they are waiting from State Council of Education, Research and Training(SCERT), Maharashtra which has an overall control on marking system, performance standards, etc. Once their suggestions are received, a formula for admissions will be made in a week.
The bench clarified that its question is as to when the examination will be held, if the state has cancelled the exam.
"The suggestion about marking system etc is irrelevant in this. If you're cancelling the examination, when will you hold the examination, that's the question that we've been asking for the last two days."
Mr Kakade reiterated that they are waiting for SCERT's suggestion as they need to have some alternative for these exams, to send these class 10th students to 11th standard, a formula is required for the same.
The bench asked the State Counsel if they are thinking of promoting these students without exams.
" Then God save the education system in this country, your state" Justice Khathawalla remarked
Mr Kakade informed the Court that they will have assessment of marks.
"This is the main examination and the only main exam that's held in their last one year of schooling." the Bench remarked
"If you're waiting for suggestions from them (SCERT) whose suggestion is this? To promote them without exam? Are we making a mockery of our education system?" the Bench stated.
In response to Counsel's submissions that it's due to the pandemic, the Bench asked how the exams for class 12th were being conducted.
"If it is pandemic how are you holding exams for 12th in the same board? What are you talking? Pandemic pandemic! "Justice Khathawalla remarked.
"Earlier you passed some notification stating that upto 8th standard students can't be failed, now you SSC exams are also not required. Pandemic! " Justice Khathawalla said
In response to the Bench's questions as to who is giving these instructions and who is taking these decision of not having exams, Mr Kakade replied that it is a policy decision of the government.
"You're just destroying the system. Is there any state which has taken such decision of not to hold the SSC examination." Bench asked
The Bench was informed that the state of Tamil Nadu has taken a similar decision.
"You have followed them or they followed you?" Bench asked.
The Bench asked the State counsel as to why the same decision wasn't taken for 12th standard, and if exams can be held for 14 lakh students in 12th standard what is the basis of this discrimination against the 10th standard students.
Mr Kakade, stated that he needs to take instructions in this regards of difference between 10th and 12th standard students, from higher officers
"Things are done as per the whims and fancies of so called policy makers" Justice Khathawalla remarked.
The Court will take up the matter for final hearing next week.
Submissions by The Petitioner:
Advocate Uday Warunjikar appearing for the petitioner submitted that there's a declaration that they will hold entrance for 11th, and if they can conduct that, why exam for 10th cannot be conducted.
The Bench was however informed that the decision is yet to be taken.
In response to the Court's query as to why they should not set aside the decision, the State's Counsel sought to file a detailed affidavit.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar submitted that SSC board has 9 Regional Boards, and the situations at those boards being at Mumbai, Pune, etc are different. Therefor such decision for the entire state is an arbitrary exercise of power.
The Bench however said that it is also is not possible to say that in some areas the SSC exam should be held and in some areas it should not be held.
"The internal exams held in law colleges last year all students got 90-92%" Bench said.
The petitioner counsel further said that, CBSE in its reply has stated that considering less availability of working days. syllabus has been reduced to 30%. He suggested that this approach can be adopted by Maharashtra and syllabus may be adjusted rather than cancelling the exams.
The Petitioner Counsel also stated that UOI and HRD Ministry can do something under the Disaster Management Act, and there is a need for them to use their power. However, the Centre filed an affidavit saying they don't have any jurisdiction stating that in constitutional framework, Education falls under the State list.
"They have said that they can have some hold on CBSE but not others" Bench noted.
The petitioner counsel further said that Supreme Court decided on the issue of what can be done if action is taken under the DMA, and it was said that they could take decision qua the disaster. Therefore, if Centre can explore the option of invoking the DMA vis-a-vis the exams.
Submissions by CBSE and ICSE:
Advocate Mihir Joshi appearing for CBSE submitted that the Board, apart from holding board exams of 10th, also has a scheme for internal assessment which is already part and parcel of the main exam. This was already conducted by the Schools before the main exam was cancelled. Also, the students are allowed to appear for exams if they are not happy with the internal assessment and the assessment formula. They will be allowed to give a compartment exam in July. The students and their parents have therefore been given an option to take that decision.
The Bench however stated that in internal exams, students get 90-95% including students who previously had got 45%.
Joshi added that in that case what CBSE has done is that internal marks are to he juxtaposed with performance of school over three years.
"There has to be checks and balances otherwise everything goes haywire " Bench said.
Advocate Pratik Kothari for ICSE informed the Court that exams for 10th standard have been cancelled, and as an alternative, a group of experts in the field will be appointed to compile the data and come up with a formula, since 9th standard students have given their exams, data has been asked, and internal exams for 10th exam has been given by students.
The Bench has asked the counsels appearing for petitioner, CBSE and ICSE to submit their submissions before the Court through a note, and they will note their submissions in the order.
Submissions By The Intervenor:
The Counsel appearing on behalf of the intervenor informed the Court that CBSE has already floated some guidelines as to how the assessment has to be done without holding exams as CBSE has cancelled examination for 10th board all over India, on basis of internal tests.
"In CBSE is there a rule like in State of Maharashtra that students for 1-8 are passed and cannot be failed?" Bench asked.
The intervening counsel said that there is no such rule.
" Then you're comparing the incomparable. There(in CBSE) at least they are assessed till class 9th. Here(Maharashtra board) students are not assessed" the Bench said.
"We care for future of our students, who are future of our country. They cannot be promoted year after year without exams. That's all we're saying."
[Dhananjay Kulkarni vs Union of India and others]