‘Uncertainty over third wave’: SC grills AP over physical Class 12 exams

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up the Andhra Pradesh government for insisting on holding physical Class 12 state board exams amid the Covid situation, and expressed discontent with the mechanism adopted by it to conduct the examination.

A bench comprising Justices A.M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari told state government counsel Mahfooz A. Nazki that the court will not allow Class 12 state board exams, unless the government satisfies them with measures taken against the spread of Covid.

“You say only 15 students will be seated in an examination room. Then you need 34,634 rooms. Do you have that (number of rooms)?” the bench said, asking Nazki whether the state government has come out with any concrete formula to ensure availability of so many examination rooms.

“The commitment that you are making…we are not convinced with that. 15 students in one room, you will need 35,000 rooms,” it added.

Justice Maheshwari pointed out that beyond 5 lakh students taking the exams, nearly 1 lakh people will be involved in the process, including invigilators and other staff, and sought clarification on Covid measures.

Justice Khanwilkar also noted that there is uncertainty in connection with Delta variant of coronavirus and how will it roll out.

“What if third wave begins in between the exams?” he asked.

The bench added the pandemic situation is very uncertain and no one can predict what could happen during the last week of July, as it also sought clarification on a contingency plan, if cases increase in July.

It said the state government was putting the students under uncertainty by not laying down a specific time line for exams and results.

“You have to give at least 15 days’ notice. When are you going to do this?” it asked.

The bench emphasised that the other boards have cancelled the exams and there is no reason why the AP board can’t do so too. “Are you going to risk the students? Why not take the decision today,” Justice Khanwilkar said.

The bench also said the college admissions of AP board students will get delayed, if the government insists on holding exams in the last week of July, adding it will direct the 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 be left behind,” it said.

The top court in its order said: “Mahfooz A. Nazki, learned counsel appearing for the State, seeks time to take instructions on matters in respect of which certain aspects have been discussed in the course of arguments. Hence, this matter be listed tomorrow, i.e., June 25 at 2:00 p.m.”

It is only the Andhra Pradesh government which is insisting on holding physical board exams for Class 12 students amid the pandemic.