HC asks govt to reply on plea seeking withdrawal of SSC exam

Panjim: The High Court of Bombay at Goa has directed the State government to submit a detailed reply into a petition seeking withdrawal of or revoking the Goa Board examination slated for later this month.

Petitioners Cedric Vaz and Kenneth Vaz have submitted to the court that the government’s decision to conduct the SSC and HSSC examinations has been taken in undue haste.

“There are apparently no detailed and scientifically prepared instructions issued, protocols framed and/or guidelines/measures specified and/or provided by the circular dated May 7, 2020 with regards to screening of students, staff and volunteers of/at the examination centres for COVID-19 contagion, either by way of medical tests prior to the conduct of the examination or by way of thermal scans at the time of their entry into the examination centre to verify and ensure that no student, staff member or volunteers infected or exposed to the rick,” states the comprehensive petition.

The petitioners also raised apprehension regarding social distancing citing the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education’s admission and anticipation of possible crowd given the large number of students expected to answer the SSC examination. The petitioners, including Kenneth, who is a Class X student, also sought clarity on the sanitisation of buses to be used to transport certain students, staff and volunteers; sanitisation of the examination centres, including furniture, etc.

The petition also mentions of a recovered COVID-19 patient whose son is scheduled to answer the examination while seeking to know from the government how it will rule out the presence of any asymptomatic carriers at the examination centres. Minimum number of examination halls/ classrooms; minimum standards that toilet facilities each centre must meet and other concerning aspects are also emphasised in the 111-page petition.

The petitioners have sought the High Court’s intervention to direct the government to withdraw or revoke the latter’s decision and restrain Goa Board from conducting the examination for the current academic year keeping in mind the present situation.

The court has adjourned the writ petition for final hearing on Friday, while directing the government to file a detailed reply latest by Thursday. [H]