Karnataka HC Dismisses PIL Seeking Cancellation of Karnataka SSLC Exams 2021
12 July 2021, Karnataka High Court Sri S V Singre Gowda Vs. The State of Karnataka — Writ Petition No.12441/2021 (EDN-EX-PIL) refused to cancel Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) Exams to be conducted by the State Government of Karnataka. The court directed the State government to conduct exams scheduled on 19.07.2021 and 22.07.2021 in strict adherence to COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board, and while ensuring maintenance of social distancing, use of mask, and use of sanitizers.
A bench of Hon’ble Justice Mrs. B.V.Nagarathna and Justice Hanchate Sanjeevkumar dismissed the petition and held:
“The petitioner has not been able to point out as to how the decision of the State of Karnataka to conduct the SSLC exam on 19.07.2021 and 22.07.2021, is arbitrary or that the same interferes with the rights of the students and other stakeholders. We do not find any merit in the petition.”
The petitioner filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL), claiming that conducting the exams was not in students’ interest. Petitioner referred to the steps taken by the CBSE board and other State Boards cancelling Class 10th exams respectively while submitting that conducting of exams will expose the students and teachers to the risk of infection and therefore same shall not be conducted. Referring to the State’s decision to conduct only two objective-type papers for six subjects, clubbing three subjects into one question paper, the petitioner contended that students will be unable to complete preparations for three subjects at one stretch.
The respondent submitted that the circular issued on 21.06.2021 by the Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board prescribes the SOP to be followed while conducting the SSLC examination to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19. The court directions in the previous year on the same matter were relied upon wherein the court permitted the conduct of SSLC Exams, bearing in mind the safety and health of the students as well as the teachers and other stakeholders. The respondent reiterated that the decision was taken on the advice of the Covid-19: Technical Advisory Committee, Karnataka instituted by the State government, keeping in mind that the positivity rate of infection was low. Respondent submitted that in light of all these precautions taken, the conduct of exams should be permitted.
The court observed that during the peak of the second wave, the State decided to postpone the exams but did not cancel it. Holding the said examinations in the format of two objective papers ensures that the students attend the examinations in all the subjects. In II PUC Exams, students were given marks on the weighted aggregate of SSLC, I PUC, and internal assessment. There is no such data available with the State regarding SSLC students, and hence exams are necessary to be conducted. The court further held:
“Examination, which is in the nature of a Board Examination being conducted by the State on 19.07.2021 and 22.07.2021 is in the interest of the students, as they would have a good basis in future vis-à-vis their academic and professional career. There would be material to evidence the fact that they attended the State Board examination and marks card was issued on that basis and were not simply declared as “pass” without attending any examination.”
On the abovementioned observations, the court dismissed the petition for want of merit. It directed the State and its authorities to conduct the SSLC examinations strictly per the SOP issued in the form of a circular dated 21.6.2021.
Vaibhav Karadale | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL