The Tamil Nadu Government told the Madras High Court on Monday that it is going ahead with tenth standard examinations later this month as it fears the covid cases may touch two lakh in coming months against 30,000 plus now.
A spurt of such a magnitude means reaching the community transmission stage, a kind of free for all in which no one will know who is infecting whom.
This grim reality is being denied by Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami all along despite galloping infection. In order not to cause panic, they have kept saying that the government is on top of the situation.
The true situation has come out because of Education Minister K A Sengottayan’s insistence that tenth standard examinations should be held as scheduled from the middle of this month. His fear is that the situation may get worse. He has said students can be brought to examination centres in special buses and they can be made to wear face masks. Hand sanitisers can be provided in the examination centres and the halls can be disinfected.
In spite of these assurances, the entire opposition led by the DMK demanded postponement of the examination.
A public interest litigation was also filed in the Madras High Court seeking postponement of examinations.
When it came up for hearing before a division bench on Monday, Justices Vineeth Kothari and Suresh Kumari grilled the government on why it was putting the lives of nine lakh students at risk, what precautions it was taking to see that the students do not get infected and what was the urgent need to hold the examinations now.
Advocate-General Vijaya Narayanan told the bench that this was the right time to hold the examinations as medical experts had predicted that the number of cases in Tamil Nadu might touch two lakh by October-November. He also argued that the school final examinations had been completed in 11 States in spite of covid epidemic and it would not be fair to stop them in Tamil Nadu alone.
He also assured the court that the examinations would be conducted as per the guidelines issued by the Centre. The examination centres would be disinfected and candidates would be provided face masks and hand sanitisers . Special buses would be run for bringing the students to schools.
The bench said it was not convinced by these explanations. The judges asked:” Can you guarantee the lives of these children? “
They said they saw no logic in going ahead with the examinations at this juncture. It asked the Government to file a detailed counter and adjourned the hearing to June 11.