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'Are You Going To Risk Students' Lives?' Supreme Court Warns Andhra Pradesh Govt Against Holding Class XII Exams Amid COVID

Srishti Ojha
24 Jun 2021 6:17 AM GMT
Are You Going To Risk Students Lives? Supreme Court Warns Andhra Pradesh Govt Against Holding Class XII Exams Amid COVID
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The Supreme Court on Thursday intensely quizzed the Andhra Pradesh Government over its decision to conduct physical exams for Class 12 tentatively in the last week of July.A vacation bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari expressed lack of conviction with the state government's affidavit which stated that COVID safety protocols will be followed by ensuring that only...

The Supreme Court on Thursday intensely quizzed the Andhra Pradesh Government over its decision to conduct physical exams for Class 12 tentatively in the last week of July.

A vacation bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari expressed lack of conviction with the state government's affidavit which stated that COVID safety protocols will be followed by ensuring that only 15 students will be there in a hall.

With nearly 5 lakh students expected to take the exams, the bench observed that there should be at least 30,000 exam halls with 15 students per hall. The bench asked Advocate Mahfooz Nazki, counsel representing State Government, if the state has come out with any "concrete formula" to ensure the availability of so many exam halls.

"How are you going to arrange for over 28,000 rooms with 15 students per hall? Have you a formula for that? You will require over 35,000 rooms if it is 15 students per hall? Do you have so many rooms?", Justice Khanwilkar asked.

"The commitment that you are making...we are not convinced with that. 15 students in one room, you will need 35000 rooms!", the bench said.

The bench also observed that the pandemic situation is very uncertain and no one can predict what could happen during the last week of July. The bench referred to the apprehensions raised by experts about the possible third wave and the delta variant of coronavirus.

The bench also observed that the State Government was putting the students to uncertainty by not laying down a specific time line for exams and results.

"You can't keep things so uncertain like this? You have to give at least 15 days notice. When are you going to do this?", Justice Dinesh Maheshwari asked.

Why not cancel exams if other state boards have cancelled?

Justice Khanwilkar pointed out that "other state boards have cancelled the exams taking note of the ground realities".

"The other boards have cancelled it. There is no reason why this board can't follow it just because it wants to show it is different", Justice Khanwilkar added.

"Are you going to risk the students? Why not take the decision today", Justice Khanwilkar further asked.

The bench also mentioned that the college admissions of Andhra State Board students will get delayed if it is insisting on holding exams in the last week of July.

"You cannot have uncertainty for declaring results. We will direct UGC to declare a cut-off for admissions. Just because your board has not conducted exams, that cannot be a ground for not starting admissions in your state. Other board students will get admissions, and your state board students will lag behind".

The bench also warned that if any fatality happens due to COVID, the state will be held responsible.

"And in case of any fatality, you will be held responsible", the bench warned.

"Unless we are convinced you are geared up to take exams without any fatality, we won't permit you to go ahead and conduct exams", the bench added.

The bench has directed the state counsel to get instructions from the state government on the conduct of exams in the light of observations made by the court. 

The Court will consider the case again tomorrow at 2 PM. The Court has asked the state's counsel show it the file recordings related to the decision.

"Show us the file recordings of the decision.  All this must've been examined by authorities before taking decision. Show us that. We will see the snapshot. You cannot keep the students hanging. Share the information and snapshot", the bench said.

Is there any contingency plan?

The bench also asked the state counsel if there is any 'contingency plan' if the pandemic situation worsens during the middle of proposed exams.

"What is the contingency plan. If things do not go well mid-way, what is the contingency plan?", Justice Dinesh Maheshwari observed.

The bench said that the Government should have a "360 degree" view of the situation and should be ready to address all contingencies.

Case : Anubha Shrivastava Sahai and others vs Union of India and others

Click here to read/download the order
















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