'Children can't be exposed to risk': SC stays Kerala move on Class 11 exams
New Delhi, September 3, 2021
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Kerala government decision to conduct offline examinations for Class 11 students from September 6, citing the alarming situation in the state, which accounts for nearly 70 per cent of new Covid cases in the country.
A bench headed by Justice A. M. Khanwilkar and comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy and C. T. Ravikumar orally observed: "There is an alarming situation in Kerala. It accounts for nearly 70 per cent cases of the country, with over 30,000 daily cases. Children of tender age can't be exposed to risk."
The top court passed the order on a plea by Rasoolshan A, represented by advocate Prashant Padmanabhan, challenging the Kerala High Court order declining to interfere with the state government decision to conduct offline exams.
Padmanabhan contended that it was a huge risk to conduct physical examinations amid the alarming Covid situation in the state. He added that children have not been vaccinated and there are a lakh students, who are supposed to take the examination scheduled from September 6 to 27.
The bench wondered if the Kerala government had taken these facts into account, before deciding the schedule for the offline examinations. It observed that, prima facie, it finds force in the submission made by the petitioner that the state government has not seriously considered the prevailing situation before having physical examinations.
"As we couldn't get satisfactory response from counsel for state in this regard, we grant interim relief staying offline exam till next date of hearing. List this matter on September 13," it ordered.
Padmanabhan had cited the critical observations made by Justice R. F. Nariman in July against the Kerala government on the relaxations in the Covid restrictions amid the Bakrid festival.
"The test positivity rate (TPR) of Covid-19 in Kerala is above 15 per cent. This court may kindly take judicial notice of the fact that Kerala accounts for more than 50 per cent of the Covid cases in the month of August 2021. Compelling minor unvaccinated students of Class 11 to take part in a public examination amid the third wave of corona pandemic in Kerala is unjust, unfair and unreasonable," said the plea.