HC rap on Seba over exam centre in KA

Guwahati, Feb. 2: The Board of Secondary Education, Assam, has some tough questions to answer with Gauhati High Court today asking it why students of two development blocks in Karbi Anglong have been forced to take their matric examination from adjoining Morigaon district for the past 15 years.

Hundreds of pupils from various schools in Amri and Chinthong development blocks in Karbi Anglong district have to travel for at least four hours to write their test since the nearest examination centre is at Nellie in Morigaon.

A division bench of the high court, comprising Chief Justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur and Justice Mutum Binoy Kumar Singh, today asked the education board to explain by tomorrow why a common examination centre cannot be set up for the two development blocks.

Advocate A.D. Choudhury, who is an amicus curiae in the case, said the court has expressed serious concern over the issue and asked Seba to do something immediately for students’ welfare.

The matric or high school leaving certificate examination, 2011 will begin from February 21 across the state.

Choudhury said the court observed that in case Seba cannot open the centre, it should ensure transportation and accommodation facilities near the existing Nellie centre.

According to Seba guidelines, there must be at least 200 candidates for setting up a matric examination centre.

The Telegraph in its October 7, 2010 edition, highlighted how nearly 1,500 students of at least seven schools from Amri and Chinthong development blocks have been forced to travel for some 40 to 100km to write their matric examination at the Nellie centre.

Even though aggrieved students had approached Seba and the education department, the pleas apparently went unheeded.

Students even sent a petition to Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal seeking his intervention in the matter. Sibal, however, did not respond to the petition.

The Chief Justice came to the students’ rescue when he gave directions to register a suo moto PIL on the issue in December last year.

Several students under the banner of United Tribal Youth Forum had sent him a letter on December 17 seeking his intervention to set up an examination centre in the development blocks.

Seba, which filed a petition as a respondent to the PIL, stated that roads and bridges on the way to Amri block are in a deplorable condition and thus not safe for despatching confidential examination materials.

The board submitted before the court that to conduct such an important public examination like HSLC or matric, it requires huge preparation and it will not be practicable for Seba to grant a new centre for the development blocks at Karbi Anglong at this stage.

The question papers for the ensuing examination are already on their way to the Nellie centre.

Seba secretary L.N. Sarma in the petition said the board would consider setting up an examination centre at the block if the basic infrastructure for conducting the examination was made available.

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