Raising concern over the rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court on Monday asked the state government to clear its stand on permitting the ICSE board to conduct its pending examinations of Classes 10 and 12 in July.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice S S Shinde said the state government cannot maintain an ambivalent and ambiguous stand, that if the number of students who opt to appear for exams is few, then permission would be given for it.
The Indian School Certificate Examination (ICSE) board had decided to hold its pending examinations from July 2 to 12 across the state, after the exams could not be conducted in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Mumbai resident Arvind Tiwari then filed a petition challenging the boards decision, claiming that the number of COVID-19 cases was still on the rise and hence, it would be appropriate to declare results based on gradation and assessment of the past performance of students in internal exams conducted by various ICSE schools.
The board last week told HC that it has now decided to offer students an option to either take the pending exams in July or have their final results, in subjects for which exams have not been held, determined by the board based on their performance in internal assessment/pre-board exams, results of which the board has already taken from respective schools.
The bench had then directed the board to present its methodology about alternative grading for those students who opt not to physically appear for the exams.
On Monday, the board sought further time to submit its methodology. The court then sought to know the government's stand. It said the government cannot adopt a wait and watch stand, and directed it to file an affidavit clearing its stand on the issue.
What is the government's stand if 50 per cent of the students from ICSE schools opt to appear for the examinations physically...what if the percentage of students is higher or lesser? the court said and posted the matter for further hearing on Wednesday.
The court noted that the number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra was still on the rise and even the mortality rate is high. Petitioner Tiwari told the court that the board had conducted exams in Karnataka, and 24 students from a school had to be quarantined after the father of one of the students
tested positive for coronavirus.
As per data submitted by the ISCE board, there are 226 schools in Maharashtra affiliated with it and 23,347 students are scheduled to appear for the Class 10 examinations.