The counsel for Cambridge ruled out on Thursday the possibility of allowing school-assessed grades to O/A Level students, as he presented his arguments before the Sindh High Court (SHC), in pleas pertaining to Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) exams.
A two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Amjad Ali Sahito, was hearing the pleas filed by students.
Cambridge's counsel also submitted documents containing the details of CAIE examination procedure at the hearing.
Following that, the additional attorney general contended that decisions on similar petitions were pending in the Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar High Courts.
"The Lahore High Court (LHC) has reserved its verdict on the plea and before issuing a ruling on the matter, the SHC may wait until the former issues a judgment," he said, pointing out that the pandemic situation in Punjab was worse than that in Sindh.
In this situation, it will be better to wait for the LHC's verdict and the ruling it issues could be implemented across the country, he added.
"If exams are held, they would be held across the country."
The counsel for the Sindh government had the same stance, at which the court directed the counsel for the petitioners to present his arguments.
Contending that holding physical exams were not a feasible option amid a pandemic, the counsel stated that exams had been postponed across the world.
"Students and parents have reservations over physical exams," he said, giving the examples of other countries where exams had been deferred.
O/A Level exams have been postponed in Saudi Arabia and Oman, where the pandemic situation is similar to that in Pakistan, the counsel said, adding that exams had also been deferred in Bangladesh and Kuwait.
"Pakistan is the only country where exams are not postponed, even when it is reporting more Covid-19 cases than other countries." He added that even the federal health minister had warned of Covid-19 cases peaking in June and during the third wave, children too were more susceptible than before to contracting the virus.
Referring to Federal Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar's statement of lockdown being inevitable if the spread of the virus was not controlled, the counsel remarked, "On one hand, they [authorities] warn of closing down cities, on the other, they announce exams."
After the completion of his arguments, the counsel for Cambridge claimed that when school-assessed grades were awarded to students last year during a coronavirus emergency, teachers had marked the students with grades higher than they deserved.
"It cannot be repeated this year," he asserted. "Students being more marks than they deserved had created problems last year."
The counsel further contended that CAIE exams were scheduled to begin on April 17 worldwide and the Pakistani government had approached Cambridge on the matter of physical exams on April 6, implying that it was too late to opt for school-assessed grades.
"The due date has passed," he stated.
He went on to assure that pandemic-related standard operating procedures would be observed during the exams.
Following that, the court adjourned the hearing till Friday (today).
Dilapidated roads, flyovers
Meanwhile, a two-member bench comprising Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Rashida Asad issued notices to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), Sindh government and other parties in a plea pertaining to the dilapidated condition of roads and flyovers.
The petitioner pointed out the poor condition of the flyovers across the city.
"The extension joints of bridges on various road have been damaged and those installed by the KMC on the flyover at Shaheed-e-Millat Road and Jam Sadiq flyover are also in disrepair," he said, moving the court to direct the relevant authorities to repair roads and flyovers across the city.
At that, the court issued notices to the respondents, seeking details about the construction and lining of flyovers and roads in Karachi.
Separately, a two-member bench comprising Justice Adnanul Karim Memon and Justice Adnan Iqbal Chaudhry reserved the verdict on a plea seeking the dismissal of culture and tourism department officials involved in corruption.
At the hearing, the court inquired why the officials included in National Accountability Bureau (NAB) inquiries had not been sacked.
"Has former Sindh Tourism Development Authority managing director Roshan Ali Kanasro, against whom a NAB reference has been filed, not been sacked?" the court remarked.
The counsel for the government informed the court that Kanasro had only been issued a call-up notice and not inquiry was launched against him.
"But a call-up notice signifies that an inquiry is under way against him," the court noted.
Besides, the defence lawyer informed the court that Kanasro had acquired bail from the SHC.
Moreover, the petitioner's counsel stated that Kanasro, along with Manzoor Kanasro, was accused of awarding contracts to blacklisted contracts in exchange for billions of rupees.
The court adjourned the hearing after reserving the verdict on the plea.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2021.
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