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The Supreme Court heard a petition asking for the termination of the compartment exams conducted by CBSE due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facts of the case

Compartment exam is the opportunity given to those students who could not pass in one or two subjects in 10th and 12th standard, and are hence given a second chance. A student has a maximum of 3 chances to clear this compartment exam. A total of 150198 students of class 10th and 87651 students of class 12th have failed the exams. Thus, they are therefore assigned to the compartment category. This issue came forward before the Hon’ble Court in Anika Samvedi & Ors. V. Union of India & Anr.

On 31 July 2020, the Supreme Court directed the petitioner to make representation on this behalf before CBSE. The petitioner followed the Order of the Supreme Court and made a representation before CBSE. The petitioner stated that “In the view of the rising cases of the COVID pandemic, it shall be impossible for the CBSE to take the compartment examination soon and therefore, requested the CBSE to cancel the compartment examination.” Furthermore, the petitioner stated that the students are unable to take admissions in desired universities. This was because the compartment examination was not conducted in July.

Submissions Before the Court

The petitioner submitted that CBSE replied to the representation vide notification dated 6.08.2020. It stated that it shall not agree to cancel the compartment exams.

“CBSE gave a vague reply to the petitioner’s representation and stated thereunder that if the compartment examination is cancelled then the future of the other 10th and 12th board examination students shall be affected. However, it is submitted that CBSE did not clarify how the students who do not belong to the compartment category will be affected if the compartment exam is cancelled.”- the petition stated. The petitioner also called attention to the fact that the dates of the compartment examination are not disclosed by CBSE yet.

The Plea stated that “It is submitted that the petitioners have approached this Hon’ble Court seeking directions to the C.B.S.E to ensure that, the Petitioners and the other students of class 10th and 12th compartment category are not forced to appear in the compartment examination during the peak of COVID 19.” Additionally, the petitioner requested the Supreme Court to grant an Order against CBSE. It shall consist of a plan which neither forces the students to waste a whole year nor are they forced to appear for the compartment exams in the on-going pandemic.

Letter by the Students

Students affected by the decision of the CBSE came forward and sent a letter petition to the Supreme Court. A total of 809 students have moved the letter. The matter has not moved up in the Supreme Court yet. The students have requested the Court to take “suo motu” action on this issue. Additionally, the suspension of compartment exams is also requested until the situation normalizes.

Furthermore, the letter stated that “In view of unprecedented health emergency and rising numbers of the COVID-19 cases in the country, the conduct of compartment examination will expose the examinees to great risk and will undeniably sacrifice the basic principle of integrity by neglecting equal basis and treatment to all examinees.” The letter highlighted the fact that many colleges have already announced the last dates of the admission procedure, whereas, CBSE has not even declared the dates to conduct the exams. This was clearly highlighted as a matter of concern.

Court’s Decision

A Bench comprising of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna heard the matter. The Bench disposed of the Petition. They further granted permission to the Petitioner to challenge the notification dated 8th August 2020.

Justice AM Khanwillar stated that “A substantive petition needs to be filed to assail the August 6 CBSE representation. The CBSE has already given its reasons. You please file the Notification. We’ll give you the liberty to do so.”


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