COVID-19: SC Stays Kerala Govt's Decision to Conduct Statewide Offline Exams for Class 11

'Children of tender age cannot be exposed to this risk,' the bench said.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday, September 3, stayed the Kerala government’s move to conduct in-person exams for students of Class 11, citing the fact that COVID-19 cases are rising in the state.

The exams were scheduled to be held from September 6. The Kerala high court had earlier observed that conducting examination was a matter of government policy and no interference was warranted.

One Rasoolshan A, represented by advocate Prashant Padmanabhan, filed an appeal against the ruling, reported LiveLaw.

On Friday, a bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy and C.T. Ravikumar noted that Kerala accounts for 70% of the country’s cases.

“There is an alarming situation” in the state owing to COVID-19, observed the apex court.

“Children of tender age cannot be exposed to this risk,” it said.

While Kerala’s large COVID-19 numbers have been cause for concern, experts, like epidemiologist Giridhara R. Babu for The Wire, have noted that the despite the fear of potential fatalities at staggeringly high levels of vulnerability, Kerala has shown remarkably lower case fatality.

“This is mostly due to early diagnosis, timely referral (although it is self-referral due to better awareness), and adequate treatment facilities,” the article notes.

Also read: Why Kerala’s Response to COVID-19 Has Positive Lessons for India

Advocate Padmanabhan told the court that around 3 lakh students will answer the exam, which will go on till September 27.

“Prima facie we find force in submission made by petitioner that the state government has not seriously considered the prevailing situation before having a physical exam proposed to be conducted in September this year. As we couldn’t get a satisfactory response from counsel for the state in this regard, we grant interim relief staying the offline exam for till next date of hearing, the bench said.

Justice Ravikumar, who is from Kerala, also observed that to allow students from different parts of the state mingle in exam centres can result into a ‘super-spread’ of COVID-19, according to LiveLaw.

Justive Khanwilkar asked the state for assurance that “no student will be infected”.

“Even one case reported for a student, we will hold you accountable,” the judge said. The state counsel said that it could not assure the court of such a thing.

The apex court posted the matter for next hearing on September 13.

(With PTI inputs)