The Youth Bar Association has approached the Hon’ble apex court to seek cancellation of class 12th board examinations for ICSE and CBSE boards. Advocate Mamta Sharma, on behalf of 521 students has filed the Public Interest Litigation. The plea seeks the intervention of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the notifications issued on 14th, 16th, and 19th May by the CBSE and ICSE boards regarding the exams of the class 12 students.
The plea will be heard by a vacation bench comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari on 31st May 2021.
Another application by Advocate Tanvi Dubey has stated that the decision to conduct the higher secondary board exams offline will be contrary to the government’s own decision to cancel the board examinations of class 10 students. Several news reports and journals have been vocal about the measures taken by the state and central ministries about the situation and the uncertainty that the students are made to suffer.
Forcing the students to appear for the exams physically will be a violation of their fundamental rights under article 21 of the Indian Constitution: the right to life and liberty which also includes the right to health. The students will be at a high risk of getting infected by the virus. The decision will also be cruel to the students who are already affected by it and the ones who have their relatives suffering from the same. Maintenance of social distancing and preferring isolation are the basic guidelines to deal with the fatal second wave of the global pandemic. The same has been advised by the government itself.
Moreover, canceling the exams for class 10 students but compelling the students of class 12 to appear for the same will go against the test of rationality as well as proportionality under Article 14: The right to equality before the law.
Several schools have been turned into covid health centers for the lack of beds and space to accommodate the patients as the cases keep rising every day. Vaccination has not been made compulsory by the law as yet and the vaccination drive is at its rudimentary stage, even now. Under circumstances where we do not know the validity of the vaccine and the effectiveness of the same, or the extent to which it can cause side effects, it will be difficult to rely on the invention of the vaccine and get back to a normal life.
Nevertheless, there have been valid points of objections raised by the board directors of the councils. Many students have been preparing diligently for their board examinations for a very long time. Holding proctored examinations will not only be risky but also a difficult affair on such a large scale. Marking the students based on internal evaluation will also be unfair as many students have not been able to give their best as they were not aware of the marking system of their board examinations to be based on the same. The ones applying for foreign universities are also at a huge risk. This constant uncertainty under such stressful times is harmful to the mental health of the students. Therefore, the state is under an obligation to respond to them as early as possible.