‘CBSE has no right to stop the student from entering exam hall’; Delhi High Court comes strongly in Domicile Certificate case

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: A petition was filed by Kanishka, a minor student, assailing the action of Respondent 3 whereby Respondent 3 has arbitrarily and whimsically informed the petitioner that the petitioner has been debarred from appearing in further examinations after the petitioner wrote her first exam in Hindi on 21-02-2024, as well as, and informed the Petitioner that she shall not be permitted from sitting for her exam scheduled on 26-02-2024 (English Language), despite the fact that the Petitioner was permitted to sit in the first exam which was conducted on 21-02-2024. C. Hari Shankar, J., directed the petitioner to undertake the examination on 26-02-2024.

The case concerned a private girl candidate preparing to undertake Class X examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in India. The petitioner encountered difficulties arising from a new requirement introduced by CBSE, which necessitated the submission of a domicile certificate along with the examination application. CBSE issued a notice on 5-07-2023, mandating that candidates, including private students, must upload a domicile certificate to certify their residency in Delhi along with their examination application. Many students, including the petitioner, were unaware of this new requirement until CBSE issued the notice. Consequently, they were not prepared to fulfill this criterion at the time of application. Despite the lack of awareness about the domicile certificate requirement, the petitioner submitted her examination application on 3-10-2023. However, she did not possess the requisite domicile certificate at that time.

The petitioner began obtaining the domicile certificate in December 2023, following the CBSE notice. However, bureaucratic processes and administrative delays prolonged the issuance of the certificate, causing significant delays beyond the petitioner’s control. The petitioner eventually acquired the domicile certificate on 24-01-2024. However, she could not upload it to the CBSE website due to the delay in its issuance. Consequently, she physically submitted the certificate to CBSE on 31-01-2024. Upon submission of the domicile certificate, CBSE issued an admit card to the petitioner, permitting her to participate in the Class X examinations. She successfully undertook the first paper of her examination on 21-02-2024. Despite possessing a valid admit card and fulfilling all necessary requirements, the petitioner was unexpectedly prevented from entering the examination hall for her second paper. This arbitrary obstruction by CBSE disrupted the petitioner’s examination schedule and caused undue distress.

Counsel for petitioner highlighted CBSE’s introduction of a new requirement, mandating the submission of a domicile certificate for examination was not adequately communicated to students, leading to confusion and lack of preparedness among candidates. Due to the sudden imposition of the domicile certificate requirement and inadequate communication from CBSE, the petitioner and many other students were unaware of the necessity to submit this document at the time of application. This lack of awareness deprived them of the opportunity to fulfill the requirement within the stipulated timeframe. Despite the initial lack of awareness, the petitioner promptly initiated the process of obtaining the domicile certificate after learning of the requirement. However, bureaucratic delays beyond her control resulted in the prolonged issuance of the certificate, causing unavoidable delays in meeting CBSE’s deadline. The petitioner diligently submitted the domicile certificate to CBSE as soon as it was obtained, albeit after the deadline specified in the notice. CBSE issued an admit card to the petitioner, confirming her eligibility to participate in the examinations. CBSE’s actions constitute a violation of the petitioner’s fundamental right to education, as enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The Court remarked that “This is completely unacceptable. The CBSE is expected to be vigilant regarding the entitlement of the students to appear in the examination. After issuing the admit card, stopping the student from entering the examination hall is unthinkable. The CBSE has no right, whatsoever, to do so. It is inhuman to first issue an admit card to a student, and when the student appears for the examination, make her stand outside the Examination Hall. The mother of the petitioner who is present in Court is in tears, but that is quite another matter.”

While the case was being heard, the student was made to wait at the waiting desk without being allowed to appear for the examination or enter the examination hall.

Thus, the Court directed the petitioner to undertake the examination on 26-02-2024 and granted an extension of time for completing the paper to compensate for the time for which she has had to wait outside the Examination Hall without undertaking the examination so that she is provided the same time to complete the paper as all other students.

[Kanishka v. CBSE, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 1354, decided on 26-02-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

Mr. Sahil Mongia, Mr. Shahil Rao, Mr. Abhishek Yadav, Mr. Rahul Yadav and Ms. Divya Sharma, advocates before Court

Mr. Atul Kumar, Advocate for R1 & R2

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