SC stays Kerala govt decision to start plus-one exams on Sept 5

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Supreme Court has stayed the Kerala government's decision to conduct plus-one examinations from September 5 considering the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state.

In an oral observation, an SC bench led by Justice Khanwilkar criticised the government for not taking into account the pandemic situation in the state before proceeding with the offline mode of examination.

"There is an alarming situation in Kerala. It accounts for more than 70% of cases of the country with around 35k daily cases. Children of tender age can't be exposed to risk," the SC bench observed.

The bench noted that around three lakh students will take the exam that was scheduled to be held until September 27. The stay is for a week, meaning the state government has been barred from conducting the examination until at least September 13.

The Kerala government counsel had claimed that all necessary safety protocols were in place for the conduct of the exams. He also referred to previous instances -- SSLC and plus-two exams in April and the entrance examinations in July -- wherein offline exams were held during the pandemic.

The Supreme Court noted that it did not get a satisfactory response from the counsel representing the state.

On Thursday, General Education Minister V Sivankutty had inaugurated a statewide cleaning and sanitization drive at plus-one examination centres. He had said that all centres will be ready in three days.

In July, the Supreme Court had come down heavily on the state government for granting relaxations in COVID norms for three days on the occasion of Bakrid.

The state's decision to open all shops in areas where the Test Positivity Rate was under 15% had drawn widespread flak.

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