The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) suggested an assessment formula to the Supreme Court on Thursday in which performances of a student in classes 10 to 12 will be taken into consideration while computing results for the Board exams that were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari was hearing a plea by Mamta Sharma to devise an objective methodology to declare the result of Class XII within a specific time-frame. The Apex Court had earlier directed the CBSE and CISCE to place on record the objective criteria for assessment of marks. The Supreme Court did not issue a final order on this today, but the suggestion put forward by the CBSE, through Attorney General KK Venugopal, is the most likely outcome. The court said it wanted to first hear the formula offered by the CBSE, before going to the ICSE.
Venugopal said: “The UoI is the controlling authority of the CBSE. The situation that the CBSE and ICSE had to face is unprecedented. The CBSE has been there from 1929 and we had to innovate so that we are fair to the students. A committee of 13 experts was put together and the policy developed is explained in detail:
“Students will be able to get a certificate like an in person examination. We have created a system where performance of students in each subject is reflected. CBSE has taken class 10, 11 and 12 into consideration. Class 10 is a board exam, but subjects are different from 11 and 12.
“They (the committee members) have taken 5 main subjects and the best of three and that is averaged out and a single number is arrived at. This is so far as class 10 is concerned. For class 11, the unit exam, term exam and final exam will be taken into account. Marks will be deduced and averaged out,” the AG explained.
“For class 12 students, there are practicals. We will take 30 percent from class 10, 30 percent from class 11 and 40 percent from class 12. That is how their marks will be arrived at.”
The AG then went on to explain the marks distribution by elaborating on a hypothetical scheme of marks. Earlier, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for an IA, said: “I am in the favour of the exam.” That was when the court wanted details from the two boards.
The AG also said: “The practical will be of 100 marks, irrespective of the other marks. There may be schools where the policy may be to give as high marks as possible to gain preference over other schools. There is a reasoned committee for each of the thousands of schools. The result committee comprises of two of the most senior-most teachers. If necessary, an expert will be invited.
“This committee will be the moderation committee. Three years back there would not have been the anxiety to push the child to get certain marks. This is also because of the schools which try to get more marks than other schools. The historical performance of the school, in terms of the best overall performance in the previous three years’ Board examination, will be taken as the reference for moderating the marks assessed by the school for 2020-2021.
“The subject wise marks assessed by the school for 2020-2021 should be within a range of +/- 5 marks obtained by the students in the school in the subject in the reference year,” the AG continued. “However, the overall average marks for the school assessed in 2020-2021, for all the subjects, should not exceed the overall average marks obtained by the school by 2 marks in the specific reference year.
“Students not satisfied with the scheme will be given the opportunity to appear in the exam as and when the situation becomes normal. As per this policy, marks scored in later examination will be considered as final.”
Justice Khanwilkar said: “There is no mention of any dispute resolution mechanism, after declaration of results. If there are disputes, there should be an in-built mechanism to address it. There were multiple writ petitions last year in that regard. It should be built in scheme itself so that one does not have to look elsewhere.
“Those students who are not happy, for them examination can be conducted, their number is not big. Set-ups can be done for those students who want to appear in the exam,” the judge further added. If the number of students is manageable the examination can be conducted. Declaration of result by CBSE will be by July 31.”
The AG added: “A number of suggestions may be made. We will note it down and consider them seriously. Let the CBSE take a call on this.”
The bench said: “Your autonomy is there, you are free to take your own decision. We are happy that an expert body is looking into it.”
Justice Khanwilkar said: “For dispute resolution and outer limit of date for the next exam should not be left to the committee.”
Mamta Sharma: “I have no objection. Everything has been covered in the policy of the UoI.”
Vikas Singh: “There should be a physical examination. On the scheme we need two or three days to propose a note. However, the internal exams of schools are non-standardised. Ultimately only internal exam marks will determine the board marks and determine where they head to. CLAT is being held on July 23 and NEET too.”
Justice Khanwilkar: “For CLAT, the number of students will not match the strength of CBSE students.”
Singh: “Lakhs are there too. Covid peaked in May and today it is 65,000 (infections).”
Justice Khanwilkar: “Those who want physical exams will be able to appear for one. The result in that will be binding if your marks in averaging is more. We are not going to review the policy which has been presented before us. We will give timeline to conduct physical exam and then you can appear if you are so keen.”
Singh: “Please adjourn the matter for today. I’ll come tomorrow after seeking instruction from my clients who are also stake holders in this case.”
AG: “If this case is adjourned then every single channel will take this up and debate this. There will be utter confusion.”
Bench: “We have made it clear that mandatory exam will not be held, a timeline is needed on the optional exam. We have given in-principle approval. We will keep it tomorrow for final orders. There is no rolling back on the cancellation of exams. We are only having it tomorrow for optional exam. We have rejected the submission that conduct an examination now and cancel the CBSE cancellation policy. No rollback on scheme.”
Senior Advocate J.K. Das for ICSE said: “We have taken marks from class 10 board, project and practical works, performance in school examination and we have taken the best marks. We have taken average from past six years and not three years like CBSE. Only class 10 students agreed to appear for a physical examination last year. Please give us time till July 30 for publication of results.”
Advocate Amit Pai, appearing for the intervener, said: “Not opposing. My only suggestion is that July 30 will be very late. The admission process for my client has already started.”
Bench: “You can take provisional admission in whichever college you want.” AG: “We have 14.5 lakh students. We can’t compare.”
Pai: “If you could indicate in the order, that Mr Das has said that they will endeavour to do so as soon as possible.”
Singh: “Final admission of any college should depend on the final result.”
Bench: “Let’s not complicate the education system.”
AG: “Whatever he wants to say tomorrow, please tell Mr Singh to give us the details of the same today.”
The bench’s order of today said: “We have heard the counsels. Both have submitted detailed schemes in-principle on affidavit by an expert committee. The gist of the proposed scheme of CBSE is annexures R12. Whereas ICSE has propounded a scheme that is somewhat different. Mr. Vikas Singh appearing for intervener submitted that the decision of CBSE and ICSE to cancel the exam be revisited. We state that this cannot be taken forward. We have already accepted the in-principle decision taken by the Board and placed it before us.
“Students who want to appear can do so for improvisation of marks and that takes care of the students who want to appear. In other words, no prejudice will be caused to students who want to appear. We have no reservation to accept the scheme and the Board can proceed on the same. However, the scheme must incorporate the provision for dispute resolution in case students want correction of the final result declared.
“Second is for declaration of results and when the timeline for optional exams would be declared. Both the Boards have submitted that the same will be done. Since Mr. Singh wants to peruse the scheme, we defer the final order till Monday. We clarify that it is only for suggestions on the scheme and the boards can proceed on the proposed scheme.
“CBSE and ICSE can notify their schemes incorporating the dispute resolution and timeline for results and optional exam. Mr. Singh proposes to give his note of suggestions before tomorrow on the scheme. We will hear the matter on Monday, June 20. Thus there is time to finalize the scheme and notify it.
“Out of 28 states, 24 states have cancelled class 12th exam. Only 4 states have not done that namely Assam, Punjab, Tripura and AP have not cancelled. The petitioners to serve the standing counsel of these four states. We are informed Kerala has not cancelled class 11 exams which is equivalent to board exams. Serve the standing counsel of Kerala too.”
See order below:11540_2021_34_301_28074_Order_17-Jun-2021