HC reviews SSC Exam, Centre made party, asks for traffic plan

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 19 May 2020 19:44 IST

Two days prior to the scheduled SSC exam on 21st May, High Court of Bombay at Goa has taken up the case of SSC examination for review, in the changed circumstances of continuation of lockdown due to Covid19.

Two days prior to the scheduled SSC exam on 21st May, High Court of Bombay at Goa has taken up the case of SSC examination for review, in the changed circumstances of continuation of lockdown due to Covid19.

Goa government has been directed to file an affidavit on MHA guidelines on holding exams as well as traffic plans around examination centres.

The next hearing will be held tomorrow, 20th May, at 10 am. The order is also expected tomorrow since SSC examination starts from 21st May.

Earlier, on 15th May, the high court had denied interim relief and had refused to stay the SSC examination.

One of the reasons cited in the judgement was that the lockdown ends on 18th May while the examinations begin from 21st May.

The SSC examination, which was earlier postponed due to lockdown, has been rescheduled from 21st May to 6th June, but examination of main  subjects for all   the students would be over by 1st June, a period of 12 days.

However, when the lockdown has been now extended till 31st May, Cedric Vaz, one of the petitioners rushed back to the court, seeking review of its earlier decision.

While opposition party leaders had also demanded yesterday to cancel the rescheduled examination and NSUI had staged a demonstration, goanews.com had conducted ‘Standpoint’ programme, pointing out several reasons to review the high court order. Hearing was also held on these issues.

(CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE ‘STANDPOINT’ PROGRAMME)

PRODUCE MHA GUIDELINE

In a fresh order today, the high court has accepted the contention of Vaz and made the MHA the party to the petition. The order stated:

“The learned Asst. Solicitor General of India Mr. Pravin Faldessai who appears today in the Court is requested to obtain urgent instructions from the MHA as to whether any of the clauses of the MHA's order dated 17th May, 2020, prohibit even holding of the examinations in Schools and Colleges.”

Justice M S Sonak has also warned that It is emphasized that some stand, one way or the other, will have to be taken by the MHA and this Court will not appreciate any excuse that there has been some difficulty in obtaining instructions. The situation is of urgent nature and can obviously brook no delay. It is not in the interest of any one that any uncertainty lingers with the issue of holding of examination.”

During the hearing today morning, Advocate General Devidas Pangam argued that the MHA in its order has not specifically mentioned that school examinations cannot be held during the lockdown. Accordingly, the high court has directed the government to furnish the MHA guideline regarding holding of exams.

SHOW TRAFFIC PLANS

The High Court has also directed the state government as well as the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education to file additional replies on the review of the changed scenario with Goa finding Covid positive cases. The court said:

“The State and the Board are directed to file additional replies by tomorrow on this aspect. The replies may also address certain additional concerns like the issue of sanitisation as provided in the MHA order, issue of transportation arrangement and traffic plans, so as to ensure that there is no clogging of traffic at or around examination centres and breach of social distancing norms, health emergency measures, including access to availability of ambulances at the examination centres in case need therefor arises.”

In its ‘Standpoint’ programme, goanews.com had pointed out how the authorities have not made proper traffic arrangements to avoid social distancing when parents come to drop the students at the examination centres and how social distancing  could simply go haywire.

INCREASING COVID POSITIVES

The issue, raised by goanews.com, also came up for hearing regarding the increasing positive cases in Goa from 14th May onwards. While Goa government told the court that the Covid positive cases, in last four days, have increased to 31, the petitioners told the court that the count has gone to 42.

The order states:

“However, as of today, it is pointed out that there are at least about 31 positive cases which are being treated in the State of Goa. The learned Advocate General stresses that only persons coming from out of Goa have been detected COVID-19 positive. Mr. Diniz, and Mr. Menezes, appearing for the Petitioners point out that the actual number as of today is 42. The learned Advocate General, however, states that he is not in a position to confirm this number at this point of time.”

Incidentally, Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant, in a press conference held on 18th May at 7 pm, had confirmed that the count had gone up to 35.

Later, at 11.45 pm, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane had tweeted that the number has gone up to 42.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE COMPLETE ORDER


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