BY- JAGRATI GUPTA
Introduction: In the cases like Salvia Hussain and Ors v. State of Kerala & Ors, S Sidharth Nair v. the State of Kerala, and other similar matters, the Kerela High Court bench led by Justice PB Suresh Kumar on Friday, refused to entertain the pleas submitted byICSE and CBSE students pleading a direction from the court to the Commissioner of Entrance Examinations to eliminate the criteria of considering the 12th class Board Examination marks in giving admission to professional courses specifically engineering courses for the current academic year.
Background: This year due to the havoc created by the COVID-19 virus, the government decided to cancel the board exams of 10th and 12th class students of ICSE and CBSE. Thus, instead of the examination, these two boards espoused a ‘moderation’ policy or “assessment standardization”, according to which no student of any school will score more than what was the highest average marks obtained by ex-students in the past three and five years respectively. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court bench led by Justice A M Khanwilkar and also comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna while hearing a petition filed by an association of schools – the Association of Private Schools of Uttar Pradesh upheld the evaluation criteria of the respective boards. Subsequently, the Commissioner of Entrance Exams released a notification stating that the preparation of the rank list will be done through the criteria of 50: 50weightage which will be allotted to the marks of the entrance exam and to the marks of the 12th Board exams. Thus, both marks will have the same importance in the admission process. The students of CBSE and ICSE were disgruntled by this notification as through the ‘moderation’ policy adopted by their boards, the marks received by them are not at parity with their actual academic performance. Their petition stated that the students of CBSE and ICSE are at a disadvantaged position as the evaluation method adopted by their boards decreased their marks whereas the lenient method of evaluation adopted by state boards (SSLC) provides them a greater chance at acquiring seats in the engineering colleges.
The decision of the Court: The court dismissed the plea to direct the Commissioner of Entrance Exams to exclude 12th class marks in the preparation of the rank list. But permitted the plea praying for inclusion of the results of the improvement examinations and likewise two of such petitions were allowed which requested for stalling the closing of the mark-uploading portal till the results of the improvement exams for Cass XII were published for CBSE as well as ICSE Boards. Although the plea requesting the exclusion of 12th class marks from the rank list was denied the court expressed its sympathy regarding the sufferance of the ICSE students in their cut-throat competition in attaining the limited seats for professional courses based on their merit of 12th class board exams.