SC stays Kerala govt’s decision to conduct offline Plus One exams

The top court observed that "cases in Kerala are about 70 per cent cases of the country and children of this age cannot be exposed to this risk."

The Supreme Court Friday stayed for a week Kerala government’s decision to conduct offline exams for class 11 or plus one commencing from September 6 amid the rising cases of COVID saying “there is an alarming situation in the state.” The top court observed that “cases in Kerala are about 70 per cent cases of the country and children of this age cannot be exposed to this risk.”

“Prima facie we find force in submission made by petitioner that the state government has not seriously considered the prevailing situation before having a physical exam proposed to be conducted in September this year.

“As we couldn’t get a satisfactory response from counsel for the state in this regard, we grant interim relief staying the offline exam till next date of hearing,” said a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy and C T Ravikumar.

The apex court posted the matter for the next hearing on September 13.

Advocate Prashant Padmanabhan, appearing for the petitioner, argued that compelling minor unvaccinated students of class 11 to take part in a public examination amid the possible third wave of corona pandemic in Kerala is “unjust, unfair and unreasonable”.

The Kerala High Court on August 27 had observed that conducting examination was a matter of government policy and no interference was warranted.

“I find it difficult to appreciate the contention of the petitioners that the decision to conduct the exams was taken by the respondents without much deliberation and without any concern for the health of the students.” the single judge had said.

The apex court bench passed the order on an appeal filed by advocate Rasoolshan A challenging a decision of the High Court refusing to interfere with the decision to hold offline exams.

Rasoolshan in his appeal before the top court submitted that the State of Kerala has decided to conduct the offline examination of class 11 students in the State Board despite the CBSE/ICSE and all the states (except Kerala wherein class XII examinations were held earlier) cancelling the physical examination for class XII.

“The decision to conduct the offline examination during which was earlier scheduled to be from September 6-10 now changed to September 6-27 is unmindful of the severe pandemic situation prevailing in the country, of which Kerala is most severely affected. The Test Postitivity Rate (TPR) of COVID-19 in Kerala is above 15 per cent which is very high,” the plea said.

The appeal stated that the class 11 students of Kerala State Board have in any case have appeared in the model examination in online mode and no purpose would be achieved by having one more examination in offline mode. The marks scored by students can be taken into consideration, if the same is required for any purposes, it added.

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