Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Orissa High Court: K.R. Mohapatra J., ordered in favour of the aggrieved student in light of prevailing extraordinary situation due to COVID-19.

The facts of the case are such that petitioner 2 son of petitioner 1 was admitted as student in Class 11 in the respondent school and was unfortunately taken into custody in February 2020 and released on bail in March 2020. While in custody annual exam was conducted and petitioner student couldn’t appear. In the last week of March nationwide lockdown was announced and the petitioner student could not submit his representation by 17-06-2020 in view of the extraordinary situation. Later his representation was rejected by the school due to delay. Odisha Human Rights Commission ordered the school to consider the case of the student but to no relief. Later this court vide order dated 17-07-2020 directed the school to provide the student with ID and password for online classes for Class XII (Commerce). Though the ID password was provided to the student but did not allow him to appear for the 1st-semester examination, him not having passed class XIth. Aggrieved by the same and as the half-yearly exams are approaching the present petition is filed for promotion of the petitioner student from Class-XI to Class-XII who is prosecuting his studies (Commerce Stream) in Delhi Public School, Kalinga, Adhalia, Cuttack i.e. the respondent school.

Counsel for the petitioners D.P Nanda, V. Narasingh, S. Das, S. Devi and B.B. Choudhury placed before the court press release and notification by CBSE dated 01-04-2020 and 13-05-2020 respectively

CBSE Press Release dated 01-04-2020:

 “2. For classes 9 and 11: It has come to our notice that though several schools affiliated to CBSE have completed their examination, evaluation and promotion process for students who were studying in grades 9 and 11 in the 2019-20 academic session, there are several schools that have not been able to do so. This includes among others, Kendriaya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas, State/UT Government schools, private schools, schools located in India and abroad, etc. All such schools are advised to promote students of grades 9 and 11 to the next grades on the basis of all the school-based assessments including project work, periodic tests, term exams. etc. conducted so far. For any child who is unable to clear this internal process, (in any number of subjects), the school may utilize this period for providing remedial interventions, and school may give the opportunity of appearing in school-based test/s, online or offline. The promotion of such children may be decided on the basis of such tests.”

CBSE Notification dated 13-05-2020:

The whole country is facing a challenging time due to Covid-19. This is an unprecedented situation. Children are confined at home. Their schools are closed. They are experiencing mental stress and anxiety. Parents are worried about salaries, health of family etc. In this difficult time, children who have not been able to clear school examinations will be even more upset. The queries of such students are constantly being received by CBSE Queries from parents are also being received continuously. At such a difficult time, all of us will have to make joint efforts to relieve students from stress and to help them to mitigate their anxiety. CBSE, in view of the requests of the parents and students, as a one-time measure in extraordinary situation has decided that all the failed students of 9th and 11th will be provided an opportunity to appear in a school-based test again. Opportunity will be extended to students irrespective of whether their examinations have been completed and the exam results have been released or their exams have not been completed. This facility is to be extended irrespective of number of subjects and attempts. Schools by providing remediation to such students can conduct online/offline/innovative tests and may decide promotion on the basis of this test. This test can be taken in all subjects in which students have failed. Before holding the test, the schools will give sufficient time to the students to prepare. Therefore, all schools affiliated to CBSE will provide an opportunity to all the failed students of classes 9th and 11th for all subjects where students have failed. It is once again reiterated that this exemption is to be extended to all the students even if they have been given the opportunity earlier to this notification also. This one-time opportunity is being extended only in current year in view of the unprecedented conditions of Covid-19. This benefit is a onetime measure and will not be extended in future.”

Sd-Dr. Sanyam Bhardwaj,

Controller of Examinations”

 Counsel representing respondent school A P Bose submitted that due to the callous attitude and negligence, the petitioner student has lost his opportunity to appear in the re-test Annual Examination of Class-XI. Counsel for CBSE, T.N. Pattnaik submitted that clarification was asked from the school regarding whether the student was given a chance to appear or not, no reply of which has been received by the CBSE. Hence CBSE prayed for no role in the said matter.

The Court in view of the documents placed and arguments made, observed that the educational institutions must take all possible measures to build up the career of the students. They should not stand as a stumbling block, particularly when the academic career of a student is at stake.

The Court held that the tenor and purport of the CBSE notification dated 13-05-2020 makes it clear that the notification was issued so that all the failed students of 9th and 11th are provided an opportunity to appear in a school-based test again irrespective of whether their examinations have been completed and the examination results have been released or their examinations have not been completed. In view of the above, the Court directed the school authorities to conduct a special examination for the petitioner student to appear in the class promotion and shall also be allowed to appear in the Test/Half Yearly Examination of Class-XII (Commerce Stream) which is scheduled to commence from 12.10.2020.

In view of the above, the petition stands disposed off.[Shamshad Begum v. UOI, 2020 SCC OnLine Ori 699, decided on 09-10-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

After the All India Students Association has moved a letter petition on behalf of over 800 students earlier this month, a writ petition has been filed seeking suo moto congnizance of Supreme Court against the direction of CBSE to conduct the compartment examination amidst COVID-19 crisis.

The petition highlights that as per the CBSE Class X and XII results declared last month, around 150198 Class X students and around 87651 Class XII students were placed in the category of compartment full subject. When approached the Supreme Court, the students were asked to make representation before CBSE and upon doing so, CBSE, on August 6, 2020, without taking account of the present health crisis, provided for conduct of compartment exams.

Terming the said decision of CBSE to be in sheer violation of right to health which is part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the petition submits:

  • the conduct of compartment examination will expose the examinees to a great risk. The conduct of offline exam will entail students to travel from one place to another which will further involve the risk of shared accommodation, use of public transport, etc. The petition states that the conduct of examination will also increase the risk of the parents, teachers, staff members, etc being exposed to the virus.
  • the conduct of online exam will be against the interest of students who do not have proper access to internet/laptops/personal computers.
  • the decision of the CBSE is itself flawed as it is against the MHA Unlock III guideline dated 29.07.2020, which provides that the schools, colleges and educational institutions will remain closed.
  • many states including Bihar, Telangana and Manipur have cancelled their state board examination, in view of COVID 19. It is considering the exponential growth in the number of COVID-19 cases.
  • Ramesh Pokhriyal, Minister of Higher Education has stated that yet there is no date fixed for reopening schools and the safety of the students is a primary concern.

“When there is no deadline for opening of schools, how can the students be then expected to appear for compartment examination in the current situation.”

  • On 12.08.2020, C.B.S.E. issued a circular providing for the filing of the examination form for compartment examination by 20.08.2020 extended upto 22.08.2020 (with late fees) and that the compartment examination are proposed to be conducted in September. However, it did not specify any particular date, schedule or mode of conduction of the said examination.
  • many colleges are about to close admissions and some have already announced their admission closure date, which is adversely affecting the career of lacs of students, who will be deprived entrance into Universities/Colleges/Institutions, where they are eligible to apply for admission.

“… if an alternative mechanism is not derived, many students will lose an academic year.”

The Students have, hence, prayed that the universities/colleges/educational institutions, in which a student is eligible to apply, are directed to extend deadline for admission for academic year 2020-2021, until the result of the compartment examination is announced.

The students also sought for direction to direct the C.B.S.E. to provide for alternative mode of assessment for the students placed in the category compartment and to provide a specific date (at the earliest) for the completion of the assessment of compartment students so that their right to apply to various universities/colleges/educational institutions, who have already announced the admission closing date, is not affected.

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

All India Students Association has moved a letter petition on behalf of over 800 students seeking suo moto congnizance of Supreme Court against the direction of CBSE to conduct the compartment examination amidst COVID-19 crisis.

The petition highlights that as per the CBSE Class X and XII results declared last month, around 150198 Class X students and around 87651 Class XII students were placed in the category of compartment full subject.

When approached the Supreme Court, the students were asked to make representation before CBSE and upon doing so, CBSE, on August 6, 2020, without taking account of the present health crisis, provided for conduct of compartment exams.

Terming the said decision of CBSE to be in sheer violation of right to health which is part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the petition submits that the conduct of compartment examination will expose the examinees to a great risk. The conduct of offline exam will entail students to travel from one place to another which will further involve the risk of shared accommodation, use of public transport, etc. The petition states that the conduct of examination will also increase the risk of the parents, teachers, staff members, etc being exposed to the virus.

Regarding conduct of online exam, the petition submits that the same will be against the interest of students who do not have proper access to internet/laptops/personal computers.

The petition also highlights that CBSE has not given any clarity yet on neither the date of the compartment exam nor the mode of conduct. Many colleges are about to close admissions, which will adversely affect the careers of lacs of students who will be deprived entrance into the Institutions of their choice.

It is also submitted that the decision of the CBSE is itself flawed as it is against the MHA Unlock III guideline dated 29.07.2020, which provides that the schools, colleges and educational institutions will remain closed. The petition also states that many states have cancelled the conduct of examinations considering the exponential growth in the number of COVID-19 cases.

It further brings to Court’s notice that the Ramesh Pokhriyal, Minister of Higher Education stated yesterday that yet there is no date fixed for reopening schools and the safety of the students is a primary concern. When there is no deadline for opening of schools, how can the students be then expected to appear for compartment examination in the current situation.

The students, in their petition, state that they are not contending the importance of exams but are seeking appropriate direction of the Court only till the situation normalises. They have urged the Court to stay CBSE decision till the situation normalises. They also pray that steps for alternative system of evaluation be formulated and that provisional passing certificates may be given to the students until COVID-19 situation normalises, so that the students are not deprived of admission to colleges.

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: Pratibha M. Singh, J., addressed a matter wherein CBSE informed the Bench that the students who appeared for CBSE 12th Board Examinations and whose results will be declared late, the deadline for applying re-evaluation will accordingly be extended.

Present petition was filed by a student who appeared for his 12th CBSE Board Examinations in 2019-20 who secured 95.25%.

In order to improve his scores, petitioner had applied for improvement exams and decided to drop a year and had further applied to take the improvement exams in 4 subjects. However, his Business Studies exams which was to be held on 24th March, 2020 could not be held due to the nation wide lockdown due to COVID-19 Pandemic.

Main grievance of the petitioner was that despite the 3 exams being taken by him, result of the said three improvement exams was not declared by CBSE.

Counsel for the CBSE, Amit Bansal submitted the results of all the regular students appearing for the CBSE Examinations have already been declared only the ones who had appeared for improvement exams are left in regard for their results to be declared.

On seeking instructions from CBSE, it was informed that the stated results will be declared before 27-07-2020.

Concerns placed by the Counsel, Manchanda were that, the petitioner had to update his registration with the Delhi University where he intended to pursue his undergraduate studies and the deadline for re-evaluation as fixed by CBSE ends today i.e. 20-07-2020.

Counsel for the CBSE submitted in response that the students whose results will be declared late, the deadline for applying re-evaluation will accordingly be extended.

Matter to be listed on 27-07-2020. [Sanyam Gupta v. CBSE, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 827 , decided on 21-07-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph, JJ has refused to entertain a public interest litigation seeking directions for uniform education with a common syllabus and curriculum for all children aged between 6-14 years across the country.  The Court was hearing the PIL filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

Suggesting to opt “one nation one education board”, the petition had also sought directions from the court to merge the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Petitioner argued that the reliefs which have been claimed are founded on the provisions of Article 21A of the Constitution and on the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.

“the present educational system does not provide equal opportunity to students of all strata of society.”

The Court was, however, of the opinion that it is not within the domain of this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution to direct the constitution of a National Education Council or National Education Commission.

“These are matters which fall within the domain of experts. Similarly, the relief which has been of introducing a “standard textbook with a chapter on the Constitution” is a matter of policy. The school syllabus contains subjects bearing on the knowledge of rights, duties and governance under the Constitution.”

Asking the petitioner to approach the Government with his prayer, the Court said,

“The petition lays no foundation or justiciable basis for the Court to issue directions of this nature. … This is nothing but an effort to confer legitimacy on the petitioner’s attempt to enter into an area of educational policy.”

The ICSE and the CBSE are national-level boards of education in the country for schools.

[Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 580 , order dated 17.07.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Passing final order in the CBSE cancellation of CBSE Board examination issue, the 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has directed that petitions pertaining to CBSE examinations pending in this Court or any other Court shall be deemed to be disposed of in terms of the proposed notification to be issued by the CBSE, after CBSE placed the draft Notification before it.

The Draft Notifications proposes to cancel the Board examinations for classes X and XII which were scheduled from 1st July to 15th, 2020. Here are the other key highlights of the Draft Notification:

  • Assessment of the performance of students in the cancelled examinations will be done based on the assessment scheme as suggested by competent committee of the CBSE for declaration of result for both class-X and class-XII.”
  • Results to be announced by July 15, 2020.
  • For Class-XII, CBSE will conduct an optional examination in the subjects whose examinations were scheduled to be conducted from 1st July to 15th July, 2020 as soon as conditions are conducive, as assessed and decided by the Central Government.

“Candidates whose results will be declared based on the assessment scheme will be allowed to appear in these optional examinations to improve their performance, if they wish so.”

  • For candidates in Class X, no further examinations will be conducted and the result declared by CBSE on the basis of assessment scheme will be treated as final.
  • For class-XII, the result declared by the CBSE on July 15, 2020 will be considered as final unless the students opt for optional examination.

The Court, further said that if any other petition is pending in the Supreme Court or any other Court concerning the subject of conducting examinations for Classes X and XII by the CBSE scheduled from 1 st July, 2020 to 15th July, 2020, the same will be governed by this order and the notification approved by this Court.

Regarding ICSE Board examinations, it was submitted before the Court that the ICSE would issue similar notification with additional aspects referred to in the affidavit filed by them. However,

“ICSE may consider of conducting optional examination for Class X as well and abide by the same terms as regards the optional examination regarding Class XII referred to in the draft notification of CBSE…”

ICSE will also notify it’s Assessment Scheme within one week from today on it’s website.

The Court, hence, ordered that all proceedings/petitions pertaining to the subject matter of conducting examinations for classes X and XII by ICSE for Academic Year 2019-2020 pending in the Supreme Court or any other Court shall be deemed to be disposed of accordingly.

[Amit Bathla v. Central Board of School Education, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 541 , order dated 26.06.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: After Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before the bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ that CBSE has cancelled the remaining class 10 and 12 Board exams, which were earlier rescheduled to be held between July 1 to July 15, the Court said that it will pass the appropriate orders in the matter tomorrow i.e. on 26.06.2020.

The Court had, on 23.06.2020, deferred the hearing in the plea filed by a group of parents after the Solicitor General told the the CBSE was in the process of taking a final decision in the matter.

Plea filed by a group of concerned parents stated that the CBSE has cancelled the examinations of Class 10 and 12 for its around 250 schools situated abroad and will be awarding marks on the basis of either practical exams or an internal assessment because of the pandemic. The parents seek to cancel the CBSE Class 10 and 12 exams in the wake of the spike in the COVID-19 positive cases in the Country.

[Amit Bathla v. Central Board of School Education, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 539 , order dated 25.06.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, CJ and S.S. Shinde, J., adjourned the matter concerning conducting of Class 10th and 12th board examinations by ICSE. The High Court is awaiting the decision relevant to the issue to be passed by the Supreme Court.

Advocate General for the State of Maharashtra — A.A. Kumbhkoni informed the Court that a decision has been taken to not permit the respondent 2 to conduct classes 10th and 12th examinations re-scheduled from July, 2, 2020 given the current COVID-19 situation in the State.

Mr Mehta submits that the State has not taken any decision to prohibit the examinations in the State to be conducted by CBSE and, if indeed, the CBSE is permitted to proceed with the classes 10th and 12th examinations re-scheduled in July, 2020 there could be no valid reason not to permit the second respondent to go ahead with its own examinations.

Bench noted Advocate General for the State’s reaction that, since the Disaster Management Committee of the State has not been required to take a call in respect of examinations to be conducted by the CBSE in the State as per the revised schedule by any order of the Court, no decision as yet has ben taken; but as and when the situation so demands appropriate action would be taken.

Further it was observed that the decision taken by the Central Government and CBSE with regard to examinations shall be taken on 25-06-2020. Counsel on behalf of the State states that depending on the decision of Supreme Court, respondent 2 may work on methodology for completing the results of examinations and therefore Supreme Court’s decision is also awaited.

Thus, in view of the above, High Court’ opinion is that it ought to await the decision relevant to the issue.

State is directed to place before the Court the entire decision by the next date.Hence hearing of the PIL as well as the applications for intervention shall stand over till 29-06-2020. [Arvind Tiwari v. UOI, PIL-CJ-LD-VC-18 of 2020]


Also Read:

Bom HC | Centre and State to clarify stand on CISCE examinations; Courts asks to finalise grading plan to be adopted for evaluation

Bom HC | Students of Class 10th and 12th of 2020 batch can choose to be assessed on pre-board examinations instead of physically appearing for board exams: CISCE

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has deferred the hearing in the plea seeking quashing of the CBSE notification for conducting the remaining Class 10 and 12 exams from July 1 to 15, to Thursday after the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Court that 

“the expert body is in the process of taking final decision in the matter very shortly and hopefully by tomorrow i.e. 24th June, 2020.”

Plea filed by a group of concerned parents stated that  the CBSE has cancelled the examinations of Class 10 and 12 for its around 250 schools situated abroad and will be awarding marks on the basis of either practical exams or an internal assessment because of the pandemic. The parents seek to cancel the CBSE Class 10 and 12 exams in the wake of the spike in the COVID-19 positive cases in the Country.

The Court will now hear the matter on 25.06.2020 after CBSE takes a final decision in the matter.

The Court also deferred a related matter dealing with cancellation of the Indian School Certificate Examinations (ISCE) to 25.06.2020.

[Amit Bathla v. Central Board of School Education, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 537, order dated 23.06.2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has advised CBSE to promote ALL students studying in classes I-VIII to the next class/grade.

In view of the current situation due to COVID-19. He also advised the board students studying in classes IX & XI will be promoted to next class/grade based on the school-based assessments including projects, periodic tests, term exams, etc. conducted so far. The Minister also recommended to conduct board examinations only for 29 main subjects that are required for promotion and maybe crucial for admissions in HEIs, and for rest of the subjects, the Board will not hold examinations; the instructions for marking/assessment in all such cases shall be separately issued by the Board.

As a precautionary measure and in compliance of the instructions received from Ministry of HRD, Government of India, dated 18th March, 2020, CBSE had postponed all the board examinations that were to be held between 19.03.2020 to 31.03.2020. It was informed in the Board’s press release dated 18.3.20 that “date sheets for the rescheduled board examinations shall be communicated by the board through its website and press release after re-assessment of the situation.”

To read the detailed press release, please click the link below:

PRESS RELEASE


Ministry of Human Resource Development

[Press Release dt. 01-04-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Shaji P. Chaly, J. allowed a civil writ petition filed by a former student of a CBSE school assailing CBSE officials’ order, rejecting her application seeking correction of particulars in her class X and XII certificate.

Petitioner herein had completed her X and XII standard from the respondent 4 school (Kendriya Vidyalaya CRPF, Pallippuram) under the Central Board of Secondary Education Board (CBSE). The instant petition was filed assailing the order of Regional Officer, CBSE (Respondent 2 and 5 herein) declining to carry out a correction in the certificates issued by CBSE with respect to the name of petitioner’s mother.

The reason for rejection of petitioner’s request was that there was delay on her part in seeking correction in class X certificate in accordance with the provisions of examination bye-laws of the CBSE; and so far as XII standard’s certificate was concerned, it was not in consonance with the school records and therefore, a Gazette notification was required for changing the name.

The Court relied on Subin Mohammed S. v. Union of India, 2015 SCC OnLine Ker 34544 where it was held that in case of delay in seeking correction in a certificate, the said correction can be carried out by imposing a fine of Rs 5000. As far as the class XII certificate was concerned, petitioner’s application was within time, and the change sought by the petitioner was in accordance with her birth certificate in which the name of her mother was shown correctly.

In view of the above, the impugned order was set aside directing the respondent 2 to reconsider the application submitted by the petitioner in accordance with law at the earliest.[Archa Mohan v. Controller of Examinations, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1161, decided on 01-04-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): In a landmark case CIC held that a candidate can seek answer sheets of other candidates and that this is not marred by Section 8(1)(e) and Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act. However, it is subject to Sections 3 and 6.

The departmental examination which was conducted to decide the promotion on the job for the post of EO/AO comprised of four papers, out of which three were objective and one was descriptive in nature. Since the fourth paper was descriptive, no model answers were prepared. Around 3,000 candidates appeared in the exam out of which only 5 candidates were selected and this appellant was qualified but was not in the final list of four selected candidates as there were only four vacancies while the appellant stood at Number 5. Appellant wanted model answers for the Fourth Question paper also. The public authority has disclosed the questions and answers of all the candidates regarding three papers but refused to give four answer-sheets of four qualified candidates to the appellant. The appellant claimed that he wanted to check the answers given by four who topped above him and where he lacked in and if he was really ineligible to secure promotion.

The legality of demanding answer sheet in the examination is in principle upheld by the Supreme Court in CBSE v. Aditya Bandhopadhyay, (2011) 8 SCC 497 provided that the request is made during a reasonable time in which the authorities are expected to retain the answer scripts. SC held that answer book also does not fall under any of the exemption provided under (a) to (j) of sub-section 1 of Section 8 of RTI Act. So, an examining body does not hold the evaluated answer books in a fiduciary relationship under Section 8(1)(e).

In Kewal Singh Gautam v. State of Chhattisgarh, AIR 2011 Chh 143, Chhattisgarh High Court held that conduct of examination by the departmental agency for promotion in Govt. department, are not private activities, but in public domain and the checking and evaluation of answer sheet by an examiner and the marks given by him upon assessment of performance has nothing to do with the privacy of either the examiner or those who are responsible for conducting the examination so Section 8 (1)(j) is not attracted.

In Centre of Earth Science Studies v. Dr. Mrs. Anson Sebastian 2010 SCC OnLine Ker 541, where one employee sought information pertaining to documents relating to domestic enquiry against another employee and also for getting entries in confidential report of six other employees of the appellant, repelling the claim of exemption under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act of 2005, the Division Bench of High Court of Kerala held that provision of Section 8(1)(j) are not attracted.

CIC analysed that in CBSE v. Aditya Bandopadhya, (2011) 8 SCC 497 the Supreme Court said no, but on certain practical issues. The CBSE pleaded that if it has to share certified copies of answer-sheets of other to each and every candidate seeking under RTI, it would lead to chaos and divert substantial resources. In UPSC v. Angesh Kumar,  (2018) 4 SCC 530,  the Court read the inherent limitation in Sections 3 and 6 as pertaining to revelation of information that is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information. The Supreme Court referred to the problems in showing evaluated answer sheets in the UPSC Civil Services Examination in Prashant Ramesh Chakkarwar v. UPSC, (2013) 12 SCC 489.

CIC observed that the most important point was that the rejection in CBSE and UPSC cases was not based on any exception under Section 8(1) including (e) & (j). CIC concluded that no such difficulty exists in the present case and the appellant was entitled to get copies of answer sheet of the four candidates who topped. [Shailendra Kumar Singh v. PIO, EPFO, CIC/EPFOG/A/2018/614958, decided on 08-06-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Rebuking the State of Kerala seeking to impose its authority over schools that provide apparently quality education, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ said:

“The fundamental right to free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 and 14 years postulates good quality education and not just education for the sake of providing education. Regulation of such education is permissible by law and not by executive fiat.”

The Court was hearing the issue pertaining to guidelines issued by the State to the schools seeking affiliation. The guidelines stipulated the requirement of minimum 3 acres of land and a minimum 300 enrolled students for obtaining NOC for affiliation.

Requirement of minimum 3 acres of land:

State of Kerala: A school seeking an NOC for affiliation to the CBSE must have 3 acres of land out of which 2 acres should be contiguous and in the actual location of the school.

Court: According to the CBSE Bye-Laws, the minimum land requirement varies from location to location. In metropolitan and capital cities as well as in hilly areas, it would be difficult to get 3 acres of land or even 2 acres of land. Similarly, due to the terrain it would perhaps be difficult to get adequate land in the North Eastern region of the country as well as in Jammu & Kashmir. This realism deserves to be contrasted with non-realistic inflexibility of Kerala which too has some hilly areas where perhaps it might be difficult to find 3 acres of land.

“It appears to us that the rigid requirement of Kerala indicates that it is imposed upon the schools that seek affiliation with the CBSE only with a view to unnecessarily burden them with an onerous and arbitrary condition, since Kerala believes it has the authority to do so.”

Requirement of minimum enrolment of 300 students:

State of Kerala: If a school does not have a minimum of 300 students, it would be difficult for that school to pay the required wages of the staff and the teachers except by charging exorbitant fees.

Court: There is no material on record to substantiate such a conclusion and it is based merely on the ipse dixit of the State.

“We do not see how, if the number of students is less than 300, it will detract from the quality of education imparted to the students. In other words, the requirement of a minimum strength of 300 students is a completely arbitrary figure arrived at by Kerala and which has no rational nexus with quality education or the CBSE Affiliation Bye-laws.”

Requirement of compulsory Aadhaar for enrolment of students:

The Court left the issue open to await the decision of Constitution Bench in the ongoing Aadhaar matter.

[State of Kerala v. Mythri Vidya Bhavan English M. Sch.,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 481, decided on 02.05.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rekha Palli, J., disposed of a petition against CBSE, filed by petitioners who claimed to be holders of Diploma in Elementary Education/Bachelor of Education.

The petitioners were seeking directions to the respondents by the Court to hold the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) as expeditiously as possible. The petitioners contended that the petitioners are all eligible to be appointed as Primary Teachers/Trained Graduate Teachers however, they are not able to apply for the same against the vacancies being advertised by various employers only on account of not possessing the CTET. Respondent 1 (CBSE) pleaded that though it is authorized to conduct the examination but the same is done only upon instructions to that effect from Respondent 2 (NCTE) and that it has received no requisite instruction to that effect. NCTE, referred to Paras 4 and 11 of the guidelines for conducting TET, to contend that they have already authorised Respondent 1 to conduct the exam, and Respondent 1 has to conduct the same from time to time.

The Court, noting that lack of communication between the parties and the resulting loss to eligible candidates, directed Respondent 1 to expeditiously hold the next CTET examination within four months. Respondent 2 undertook the responsibility to write a letter in this regard to Respondent 1 within one week with any change in the syllabus. The petition was accordingly, disposed of in the above terms. [Himanshu Dabas v. CBSE,  2018 SCC OnLine Del 8350, decided on 12.04.2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

The Ministry of Human Resource Development has constituted a ‘High Powered Committee’ to examine the entire system of conducting Class X and Class XII examination conducted by the CBSE with a view to prevent leakages.

The terms of reference of the Committee are as under:

(a) To revisit all aspects related to the security checks built into the system for ensuring that the question papers reach the examinees without tampering.

(b) To examine and assess all areas of potential weakness in the present system of transporting question papers from the printing presses to the examinees.

 (c) To suggest ways in which the system can be made more secure with the use of technology and minimization of human intervention.

The 7 member committee includes:

  1. Shri Vinay Sheel Oberoi, Retd. Secy., (Higher Education), MHRD — Chairperson
  2. Shri Pavnesh Kumar, Retd. Controller of Examination(CBSE) & Former Secy.,(UP Examination Board) — Member
  3. J.S. Rajput, India representative on the executive board of UNESCO, former director (NCERT) & former Chairman (NCTE) — Member
  4. Vasudha Kamat, Independent Director (IRCON) & Former VC (SNDT Women’s University) — Member
  5. Krishna Mohan Tripathy (Ex-Director of Education, UP) & Chairman (Board of High School & Intermediate Education, UP)— Member
  6. Senior representative of DG (NIC)Member
  7. Joint Secretary (SE-II) — Member

The Committee has been directed to submit its report by/on/before 31-05-2018.

[Press Release no. 1527577, dt. 04-04-2018]

Ministry of Human Resource Development

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Bench of SA Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ dismissed all 5 petitions challenging the decision of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to conduct a re-examination of the Class 12 economics paper after an alleged leak. The Bench said that it is CBSE’s discretion to conduct the re-examination and can’t be challenged in the Court.

Several petitions were filed before the Court after the CBSE said on March 28 that the Class 10 maths and Class 12 economics paper had allegedly leaked. The CBSE, however, said yesterday that it has found after assessment there was no impact of alleged paper leak of Class 10 maths paper and no re-examination would be held.

Besides challenging the CBSE’s decision to conduct retest, the petitioners also wanted a CBI probe into the alleged paper leak, saying several incidents were reported from various states and Delhi Police was not competent to hold the nation-wide probe. One of the petitioners also sought a direction to the CBSE to declare the results on the basis of the examinations already conducted.

A petition filed by the students read:

“To penalise the student community for an incident which is under investigation and without completion of that investigation/enquiry and issuing a notice on March 28, 2018 (for re-exams), affects the fundamental rights of students which is arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional.”

Source: PTI

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the incidents of papers leak of Class X and XII board examinations being conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Reportedly, two cases have been registered on charges of criminal breach of trust, cheating and criminal conspiracy and some arrests have been made.
The Commission has observed that prima facie, it seems the concerned authorities have failed to keep the faith of the students, intact. The humiliation being faced by the innocent students is amounting to violation of their Rights to Dignity and Education. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Chairperson, Central Board of Secondary Education and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development is also expected to inform the Commission about the steps taken regarding counselling of the aggrieved students and to make the process of conducting board examinations trustworthy and foolproof to avoid recurrence of such painful incidents in future.
The Commission has further observed that such instances would adversely affect the credibility of the institutions in which the students have absolute faith. The students have been undergoing trauma engulfed with helplessness, heart break and mental agony during examinations days. The parents and the teachers try their best to counsel and motivate the students to remain calm and confident these days. Several government and non-government agencies including the media also contribute to impart ancillary support to the students to deal with the anxiety, attached to the board examinations. In spite of all the best efforts made by every stake holder, if the preparations done by the students go in vain due to such demoralizing and unexpected incidents like paper leak, it would definitely shatter the enthusiasm of the young aspiring students.
According to the media reports, six students were detained by the police in Jharkhand’s Chatra district and the Crime Branch of Delhi police has also been cracking down. Several persons including administrators of some WhatsApp groups, coaching centre’s owners and tutors were questioned about the leak and as per recent media reports, three teachers have been arrested and an official of the CBSE has been placed under suspension.
Reportedly, the CBSE authorities have announced that the examinations for Class XII pertaining to the subjects in which papers were leaked, will be conducted again on 25 April, 2018. With regard to re-examination of Mathematics paper of Class X, it is informed that the decision will be taken in next 15 days. It is also reported by some newspapers that as the Class X paper leak was restricted to Delhi-NCR and Haryana, the re-test will take place in these regions only in the month of July, 2018. As stated by the CBSE authorities, the decision has been taken in the interest of the children and an inquiry into the leak is underway. The matter is being investigated into by the police and an intra departmental probe is also being conducted.

National Human Rights Commission

 

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Staying the order of the MAdras High Court that stayed the declaration of results of NEET examination for admission in MBBS and BDS courses, the Court asked the CBSE to declare the result by June 26, 2017. The Court directed the authorities concerned to proceed with the process of declaration of results, subsequent counselling and admission as per the schedule fixed by it earlier.

The bench of P.C. Pant and Deepak Gupta, JJ also asked all the High Courts to refrain from entertaining any petition in matters relating to NEET examination 2017 that was conducted on 07.05.2017, as it affects the schedule of the examination.

The cancellation of the exam  and conduct of re-exam was sought due to alleged question paper leak. Madras High Court had, hence, on 24.05.2017, granted stay on the declaration of the result. The CBSE approached the Supreme Court for urgent hearing of the matter praying that it should be allowed to declare the result as the entire schedule of counselling and subsequent admission for medical courses through NEET has gone haywire.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition seeking quashing of admission notice issued by CBSE dated 31.1.2017 that stipulates the maximum age of 25 years as eligible candidates to undergo the NEET examination, the bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ said that, prima facie, such an age limit could not have been determined by way of a notice on the basis of the instructions issued by the Medical Council of India and that it is appropriate to direct that all the desirous candidates will be allowed to fill up the forms on the online portal of the CBSE on or before 5.4.2017.

It was contended by the petitioners that in the absence of Regulations framed by the Medical Council of India with regard to the age limit, by issuance of a notice, the age limit could not have been determined and that there are students who, after graduation, are also desirous of taking NEET examination to become doctors.

Directing that the online portal shall be opened from today evening, the Court said that if the competent authority of the CBSE seeks any logistic support from the agencies for having additional centres in the District, the Collector of the concerned District or the Commissioner of the City whoever is the authority will extend all the support so that the forms are accepted and the examinations are held on the date fixed by making different centres available.

The Court further clarified that if any High Court has passed any order contrary to the present order, the CBSE shall be bound by the order passed by this Court as far as the cut-off date is concerned. However, no High Court in the country shall interfere with regard to any litigation pertaining to choosing/allocation of centres.

The matter will be taken up in the second week of July, 2017 for final hearing. [Rai Sabyasachi v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 303, order dated 31.03.2017]