Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court
File pic

Mumbai: After dragging its feet on the issue, the Maharashtra government has finally decided not to allow ICSE and ISC exams in the state. The government told the Bombay High Court that in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, a decision has been taken not to allow the exams in the state in view of the rising numbers of COVID-19 patients.

The High Court was also informed that the government has been discriminating between the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) and the Central Board of School Education (CBSE) board students, as it has already allowed the latter to conduct the remaining papers of classes 10 and 12.

 A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Sambhaji Shinde, however, ordered the government to place on record the copy of its decision for not allowing the class 10 and 12 exams to be held by the CISCE in July. 

"In a meeting of the State Disaster Management Committee held through video conference on June 22, with the CM in the chair, a decision has been taken not to permit the CISCE to conduct classes X and XII exams, commencing from July 2," Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told the bench.

 "This decision has been taken in view of the current COVID-19 situation in the

state," the AG added while tendering a communication between him and the state’s additional chief secretary.

 The AG urged the bench to dispose of the petition it was hearing, which has been filed by several parents - some seeking cancellation of the exams and others in favor of the exams.

 The contention was vehemently opposed by advocate Aditya Mehta, appearing for the CISCE. In his submissions, Mehta pointed out that the final decision by the government is yet to be placed on record. He also accused the government of being discriminatory.

 "The state has not taken any decision to prohibit examinations to be conducted by the CBSE. If indeed, the CBSE is permitted to proceed with the classes 10 and 12 exams, there could be no valid reason not to permit us to go ahead with our own exams," Mehta argued.

"Should the state also decide not to permit even the CBSE to conduct exams, we would abide by the state's decision (of not allowing CISCE papers)," he added.

At this, AG Kumbhakoni said that the Disaster Management Committee was not required to take a call in respect of exams to be conducted by the CBSE in Maharashtra. He further said that an appropriate call would be taken as and when the situation demands.

The CISCE further apprised the bench of the fact that it is yet to form a methodology for marking those students who would opt not to write the exams and seek a final report based on their internals.

During the course of the hearing, additional solicitor general (ASG) Anil Singh told the bench that the Union government is yet to take a final call as to whether or not to allow both the CBSE as well as CISCE exams across India. He said that a decision is likely to be conveyed to the Supreme Court on Thursday, when it is likely to hear similar matters.

Having considered the submissions, the judges adjourned the matter till June 29 as they deemed it fit to wait for the Union government's final decision along with the methodology of the alternate marking as well as the orders, if any, of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the judges have ordered the government to place on record the entire decision of the disaster management committee for not allowing CISCE exams.

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