Chennai, Jun 8 (PTI) The Tamil Nadu government on Monday informed the Madras High Court that the present schedule for holding Class X Board exams from June 15 was the right time as experts' opinions published in news reports forecast COVID-19 cases in the state might rise up to two lakh in coming days.
The court, however, said it cannot put lives of more than nine lakh students at stake and asked the government to consider postponement of the exams in view of soaring COVID-19 cases across the state, where the tally as of Monday stood at 33,229.
Hearing a petition by a teachers' association challenging the government's decision to conduct the exams amid the pandemic, a division bench of justices Vineet Kothari and R Suresh Kumar made it clear it was prima facie convinced that the state has to be restrained from going ahead with the schedule.
We cannot allow the state to put lives of more than nine lakh students at stake. This is not like opening TASMAC (liquor) shops during lockdown, the court said.
However, the bench restrained itself from passing any interim order and adjourned the hearing to June 11 directing the state to inform its stand.
The government has also been directed file a detailed report on the steps taken for conduct of the examinations, which were originally scheduled in March but postponed in view of the national lockdown.
When the hearing on the petition commenced on Monday, the bench wondered whether the government can give an undertaking that no student will get COVID-19 infection if it was allowed to conduct the exams from June 15.
Responding to this, Advocate General Vijay Narayan submitted that according to expert opinions which are widely published in news reports COVID-19 cases might increase up to two lakh and evern go up further in the coming days.
'Therefore, this is the right time to conduct the exams,' he added.
He also pointed to the CBSE's move to hold Class XII exams and said there were over 200 schools affiliated to the central board in the state and none have complained.
'We do not know why only the state board schools are targeted, Narayan said.
Anyhow exams should be conducted at some stage, and if it was not now, it would be difficult to hold them at a later date, he added.
The bench then said when the government has decided not to open educational institutions till COVID-19 threat subsides, why it should force Class X students to write the exams.
There is absolutely no logic in conducting the exams risking the lives of 9 lakh students, the court said.
The petition has been filed by the Tamil Nadu High and Higher Secondary School Graduate Teachers Association challenging the state's decision to conduct the exams from June 15. PTI CORR VS VS