31 May 2022 8:46 AM GMT
Allowing a writ petition filed by a school, the Supreme Court observed that National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has a duty to fix examination centres in a manner to enable students to appear in the examination with certainty and ease."It is for NIOS to go an extra mile rather than expecting the students to walk long distances from villages and towns to take the examination", the...
Allowing a writ petition filed by a school, the Supreme Court observed that National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has a duty to fix examination centres in a manner to enable students to appear in the examination with certainty and ease.
"It is for NIOS to go an extra mile rather than expecting the students to walk long distances from villages and towns to take the examination", the bench comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and PS Narasimha observed.
The court observed thus while disposing a writ petition filed by Pragya Higher Secondary School seeking a direction from the National Institute of Open Schooling to fix examination centres for open schooling students at a reasonable distance from their study centres, referred to as Accredited Institutions. They had also sought a direction to NIOS to evolve a policy of distance criteria while fixing the examination centres for the Public Examinations conducted by NIOS. The school contended that despite the presence of either an NIOS Education Centre or other recognized institution existing within a maximum distance of 10 kilometers from the AIs, the students have to travel to the identified examination centre in Category A to Category E as provided in the Guidelines.
The court observed that the need for holding an examination within a distance of a maximum of 10 kilometers seems reasonable.
"It is documented that a substantial number of students resorting to open schooling invariably come from rural areas. Most of these students come from poor strata of the society, depend on unreliable public transport and in all probability are employed for their livelihood. It is not difficult to imagine the consequences of inaccessible examination centres for such students. There is yet another factor. The primary, secondary, or senior secondary examinations invariably involve answering multiple papers spread over a period of time. Inability to travel long distances for each examination, will only have the consequence of the student dropping out, which is the biggest challenge the Country is facing today. It is interesting to note that the New Education Policy, 2020 in Chapter 6 records the beneficial effect of reducing the burden of distance to prevent dropping outs from schools through group walks, provision of cycles etc. for the Socially and Educationally Disadvantaged groups"
The court observed that fixing examination centres is a sensitive duty involving security and continuous monitoring and that integrity in the conduct of examination is as important as the education itself.
"Every step must be taken to prevent cheating and copying which are antithesis to education. NIOS must have the freedom, which they have retained in Norms mentioned in Chapter-5, to identify, accept or reject an application offering to be an examination centre. While exercising that right, NIOS will also keep in mind its duty to provide accessibility of educational certification by enabling students to reach the examination centres.", the court observed.
While disposing the writ petition, the court issued the following directions:
a) NIOS should develop and implement criteria with respect to fixation of examination centres that would be accessible from the Accredited Institutions with which the aspirants are connected. b) NIOS shall endeavor to fix the examination centres, within a distance of 10 kilometers from the Accredited Institutions with which they are connected.c) While fixing the examination centres, NIOS shall be at liberty to take into account the credibility of the Institution offering to be an examination centre and such other factors as are necessary to ensure integrity of the examination including law and order.
Pragya Higher Secondary School vs National Institute of Open Schooling | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 535 | WP(C) 343/2022 | 27 April 2022
Coram: Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and PS Narasimha
Counsel: AOR Rishi Malhotra for the Petitioner and Adv Anshul Rai for the Respondent.
Education - NIOS shall endeavor to fix the examination centres, within a distance of 10 kilometers from the Accredited Institutions with which they are connected - It has duty to fix examination centres in a manner to enable students to appear in the examination with certainty and ease.
Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 - Chapter III of the Act incorporates the 'Duties of Appropriate Government, Local Authority and Parents'. Chapter IV, adopting the same rigour imposes 'Responsibilities of the Schools and Teachers'. This significant feature, imposing duties is over and above the Right to Free and Compulsory Education of every child provided in Chapter II of the Act. It is also the duty of the Constitutional Courts to recognize and interpret these Articles in the same spirit and give effect to the provisions of the Act. (Para 4.2)
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