SC refuses to intervene in Class 11 exams

‘Students free to file substantive writ petition before Kerala High Court’

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to intervene in a petition filed by students to cancel the Class 11 examinations in Kerala due to the pandemic and evaluate marks via an internal assessment scheme.

A Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari gave the students liberty to approach the Kerala High Court with their plea.

Advocate G. Prakash, for Kerala, said Class 11 examinations were scheduled in September. Class 11 marks were not relevant for college admissions in 2021. These marks would only be considered in 2022, when they are combined with the Class 12 marks.

Mr. Prakash said Kerala had already conducted the Class 12 examinations in April.

Advocate Prashant Padmanabhan, appearing for the students, said holding Class 11 examinations later in the year, September as planned or later on depending on the COVID-19 situation, would put students under unnecessary pressure. It would interfere with their studies and preparation for Class 12 examinations, which would start from March 2022.

The court, at this point, asked Kerala whether they would give students time – 15 days to a month – to prepare for their Class 11 examinations.

Mr. Prakash orally said the State would be willing to do so. However, Mr. Padmanabhan went on to submit that students would need at least three months to prepare.

“How can you ask for three months? Where is the time? A month is reasonable and balances the concerns on all sides. Students have studied the whole year and would need only a month to prepare,” Justice Khanwilkar told Mr. Padmanabhan.

But the court finally decided not to intervene, saying it had wanted to help but would not like to delve into the issue of Class 11 examinations any further.

“In the present proceedings, we are focusing only on the grievance regarding the Class 12 examinations of the respective boards of different States. Resultantly, we do not wish to examine the grievance of the students of the State of Kerala, who want to skip Class 11 examinations,” the court recorded in its order.

The court said the aggrieved Class 11 students were “free to file substantive writ petition before the High Court raising all contentions available to them. The same are kept open. The High Court may decide the grievance on its own merits.”

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