New Delhi: The Supreme Court has warned Andhra Pradesh government that it will be held responsible if there is even one fatality as a result of holding Class 12 exams next month.

The apex court on Thursday intensely quizzed the Andhra Pradesh government over its decision to conduct physical exams for Class 12 tentatively in the last week of July.

A vacation bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari expressed a lack of conviction with the state government's affidavit which stated that COVID safety protocols will be followed by ensuring that only 15 students will be there in the hall.

The court said Andhra Pradesh government will be held responsible if there is even one fatality as a result of holding Class 12 exams next month. The court said it may order compensation amounting to Rs 1 crore in the event of any deaths.

"Anyone fatality you will be held responsible. quantum will be defined later. There are states which are giving 1 crore compensation for one fatality. Unless we are convinced you are geared up to take exams without any fatality, we won't permit you to go ahead and conduct exams", the court said

The court directed the state counsel to get instructions from the state government on the conduct of exams in the light of observations made by the court.

"When other boards had canceled, why (does) Andhra Pradesh want to show it is different? Other boards took a conscious decision based on the ground reality. There is a new variant - 'delta plus'. Nobody is clear how it will affect us... Who took the decision to hold these exams and what are the parameters on which the decision was taken? It is a question of the health of everybody... not only about conducting exams. We are not convinced about your plan," the court said.

The court directed the state to submit a report that identifies the individual or government body that took the decision to hold in-session exams, and if all concerns had been examined.

With nearly 5 lakh students expected to take the exams, the bench observed that there should be at least 30,000 exam halls with 15 students per hall. The bench asked Advocate Mahfooz Nazki, counsel representing State Government, if the state has come out with any "concrete formula" to ensure the availability of so many exam halls.

"How are you going to arrange for over 28,000 rooms with 15 students per hall? Have you a formula for that? You will require over 35,000 rooms if it is 15 students per hall? Do you have so many rooms?", Justice Khanwilkar asked.

"The commitment that you are making...we are not convinced with that. 15 students in one room, you will need 35000 rooms!", the bench said.

The court observed that the pandemic situation is very uncertain and no one can predict what could happen during the last week of July. The bench referred to the apprehensions raised by experts about the possible third wave and the delta variant of coronavirus.

The bench observed that the State Government was putting the students in uncertainty by not laying down a specific timeline for exams and results. "You can't keep things so uncertain like this? You have to give at least 15 day notice. When are you going to do this?"Justice Dinesh Maheshwari asked.

State boards need to prepare an internal assessment scheme for Class 12 exams and declare the results on the basis of the assessment by July 31, the Supreme Court said today.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court refused to order a uniform scheme for evaluating Class 12 marks across all Boards in the country, saying each Board is independent and autonomous.

It directed State Boards to notify the scheme for assessment within 10 days and to declare the results of the internal assessment by July 31.

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