Libertatem Magazine

Karnataka High Court Gives a Green Signal to Conduct the Secondary School Leaving Certificate Examination in the Third Week of July.

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On 12.07.2021, the Karnataka High Court had heard a Writ Petition in public interest regarding the cancellation of the SSLC examination in the state. The court observed that there was no arbitrariness in the decision to conduct the examination as it will only provide material evidence to the students that they had attended the state board examination. Also, the marks card was issued on that basis and not declared “pass” without attending the examination. 


Brief Facts of the Case

A Writ Petition was filed in the public interest under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India praying to issue a writ of certiorari to quash the Notification updated by the SSLC Examination Board. As per the notification, the timetable for the conduction of the SSLC examination was issued for the academic year 2020-2021 scheduled to be held on 19/07/2021 and 22/07/2021, etc. The petition was filed in the view that conducting such an examination during the Covid-19 pandemic would expose approximately nine lakh students(between the age group of 1 to 15 years) to grave risk, especially when the third wave was apprehended in near future. Since ICSE and CBSE examination for the 10th standard was canceled by Central and various state governments, it was unnecessary and dangerous to hold such examinations by the State of Karnataka.


Petitioner’s Submission

To begin with, the learned counsel of the petitioner submitted that it was only the State of Karnataka holding the 10th standard examination. The central government had cancelled the ICSE and CBSE examination of the 10th standard. It had exposed students and teachers to the high risk of Coronavirus. In addition, it was contended that the state was experimenting by clubbing three subjects in a paper comprising three hours, thereby, leading to unnecessary tension and stress amongst the students. Furthermore, it was submitted that such a revised format of conduction examination was in opposition to the format of conduction 10th standard board examination. Finally, it was submitted that a major portion of teachers and students were not vaccinated and thus increasing the risk of exposing such students and teachers to the infection during the examination to be held on 19/07/2021 and 22/07/2021.


Grounds of Challenge

On the contrary, the Advocate General and Additional Government Advocate had challenged the petition because a circular was issued in compliance with the Standard Operation System (SOP) to be followed while conducting the SSLC examination because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Further, it was submitted that the Coordinate Bench of the Karnataka High Court had issued guidelines regarding the conduction of SSLC examination in 2020 bearing in mind the safety and health of the students, teachers and stakeholders. It was highlighted that currently, the positivity rate in the State was only 1.48%, thus, making it the ideal time for conducting the examination. In addition, the Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 had issued guidelines to conduct the SSLC examination in the third week of July. Hence, there was no merit in the PIL. 


Court’s Observation

The two-judge bench of the Karnataka High court had shared the opinion of the contentions submitted by the Respondents. It was further observed by the court that no student could be forced by the state or the parents to attend the examination. However, it would be in the interest of the students to attend the examination as it will provide a strong academic and professional base in future. Further, it was noted by the court that the petitioner was not able to develop how the decision of the State of Karnataka to conduct the SSLC examination was arbitrary and interfered with the rights of students. 


Court’s Decision

It was held by the court that it did not find any merit in the petition and thus the State and its authorities should hold the examination on the said dates, strictly following the SOP issued by following social distancing and using masks and sanitizers. 


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