Orissa High Court: In a writ petition filed by a Joint Entrance Examination (‘JEE') candidate (‘petitioner') under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India, seeking a writ of mandamus to direct the National Testing Agency (‘NTA') to correct his NTA scoring from 33.1372067 to 98.8810861 and Serial no.628193 to 11193, the division Bench of B.R. Sarangi* and Murahari Sri Raman, JJ. allowed the petition and directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (‘CBI') to inquire into the matter.
In the matter at hand, the petitioner appeared in JEE, 2022 and obtained NTA score 90.0967541 in physics, 97.373599 in Chemistry and 92.3689139 in Mathematics in Session- I, therefore, he secured total score as 98.8810861. The NTA also supplied a score sheet and roll no. to the petitioner's Mail ID. Subsequently, the petitioner appeared successfully in Session-II and secured 97.0465296 in Physics, 98.4063072 in Chemistry and 99.9902154 in Mathematics, the total score secured 98.9374067 was also supplied to the petitioner by the NTA through his Mail ID. When the intimation letter was not sent to the petitioner either for admission into top Engineering Colleges or became eligible for JEE (Advance)-2022, the petitioner sought reasons through the website and was provided NTA score as 18.8810861 in respect of Session-I and 33.1374067 in respect of Session-II, whereas he was all along intimated that he had secured 98.8810816. Hence, the petitioner alleged gross manipulation of the result.
The Court noted that the National Informatics Centre (‘NIC') certified that as per the record available in database server of the NIC, the Score Cards having petitioner's application no. for Session-I and II, provide his NTA Score as 18.8810861 for Session-I and 33.1374067 for Session-II. However, the Court said that merely contending that the documents relied upon by the petitioner containing the QR Code with the same application number, roll number with marks secured by the candidate were not genuine, that itself will not suffice, rather it created doubts regarding the fairness of the NTA and NIC in providing information and conduct of examination.
Further, the Court noted that similar complaints have been received in various States and more than 100 cases of similar nature are pending with the NTA, but they were not resolving such disputes. Regarding the maintainability of the petition, the Court said that reasons for non-acceptance of the documents were not indicated anywhere, rather it was stated, without assigning any reason, that the same were forged one. The Court also said that the career of a student was involved in the case, thus, the Court was of the considered view that the action of the respondents was arbitrary, unreasonable and contrary to the provisions of law. Hence, the Court viewed that the matter should be enquired by an independent agency other than the respondents, so that the confidence of the candidates appearing in the examination is not lost.
The Court also said that the power of the High Court under Article 226 to direct an inquiry by the CBI can be exercised only in cases where there is sufficient material to come to a prima facie conclusion that there is a need for such an inquiry. The Court also added that it is clear that a decision to direct an inquiry by the CBI can only be taken if the High Court, after considering the materials on record, concluded that such materials disclosed a prima facie case calling for an investigation by the CBI or any other similar agency, but, the same cannot be done as a matter of routine or merely because a party makes some sort of allegations.
Therefore, the Court conclusively said that since the documents relied on by the petitioner were downloaded from the website of NTA, which were disputed and not accepted by them, thus, the Court viewed that, to ascertain the genuineness of those documents, the matter called for an investigation by an independent and impartial agency. Hence, the CBI was directed to conduct an enquiry. The Court also said that if the documents relied upon by the petitioner, which are said to have been downloaded from the website of the NTA, were genuine, then the petitioner should get admission into his choicest institution of the country, like IIT or NIT. But, if the documents are found to be not genuine, then it is to be found out how the same was obtained by the petitioner, so that such mistake cannot be made by the respondents in future. Therefore, in the interest of justice, equity and fair play, the matter was handed over to CBI to find out the correctness of the documents filed by the petitioner. The Court directed the CBI to submit the inquiry report within a period of four months from the date of communication of the judgment.
[Anshuman Kanungo v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine Ori 5411, Decided on 17-08-2022]
* Judgment Authored by: Justice B.R. Sarangi
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the petitioner: Senior Advocate S. Palit, Advocate A.K.Pandey, Advocate K.Rath and Advocate G.C. Moharana
For the respondents: Deputy Solicitor Genral of India P.K. Parhi, Central Government Counsel, Advocate N.K. Sahu, Advocate B. Swain, Advocate S.K. Nayak, Advocate A. Panda, Advocate I. Ray, Advocate S.S. Sahu and Advocate N.R. Sahoo