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Bombay High Court dismisses PIL against cancellation of class X boards

June 3, 2021

The Bombay High Court today dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the Maharashtra state government’s decision cancelling the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) secondary school certificate (SSC) class X board exams for 2021. The petitioner was given the liberty to withdraw and file a separate PIL challenging the state board’s assessment formula.

The Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni questioned the need to hold exams and ruled out having a congregation of students saying “We all need to be more practical on this now that there will be a third wave which is likely to affect the younger generation. So we need to protect them and avoid congregations.”

The Maharashtra government submitted a statement saying it would allow students from all boards – state board, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) as well as the International Baccalaureate (IB) to appear for the common entrance test (CET) to be held for admissions to first year junior college (class XI) thus bringing all students on one platform.

Pune-based retired teacher, Dhananjay Kulkarni had filed a PIL against the Maharashtra State Board, CBSE and the ICSE boards regarding their decision to cancel offline class X exams. The PIL had argued the decision to cancel offline class 10 exams was unfair to class X students who were consistent in their academics, especially when the government was likely to hold class XII exams at a later date. However, the CBSE and ICSE boards have since announced cancellation of the class XII 2021 exams (June 1) and the Maharashtra government too is keen on taking the non-exam route.

This year, 16.5 lakh state board students were expected to write the SSC exams. However the rise in COVID-19 cases post the second wave of the pandemic saw the government postponing the SSC exams till June, and then, cancelling it altogether on April 20. Both the CBSE and ICSE boards had already announced cancellation prior to the state’s decision. At the time however, all boards expected to hold class XII exams at a later date. However, with the COVID-19 cases continuing to remain a matter of concern, the CBSE and ICSE boards announced cancellation of the class XII, 2021 exams and the Maharashtra government is expected to announce its decision soon.

Earlier on May 20 hearing the PIL, the Bombay High Court had reprimanded the state government for making a mockery of the education system and asking it to file an affidavit explaining the delay in announcing its class X evaluation formula. Three interventions, including one from the India-wide Parents Association had been filed supporting the government’s decision of cancelling offline exams.

Also read: Bombay HC reprimands Maharashtra government for delaying SSC evaluation formula

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