Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Shaji P. Chaly, J. allowed a civil writ petition filed by a former student of a CBSE school assailing CBSE officials’ order, rejecting her application seeking correction of particulars in her class X and XII certificate.

Petitioner herein had completed her X and XII standard from the respondent 4 school (Kendriya Vidyalaya CRPF, Pallippuram) under the Central Board of Secondary Education Board (CBSE). The instant petition was filed assailing the order of Regional Officer, CBSE (Respondent 2 and 5 herein) declining to carry out a correction in the certificates issued by CBSE with respect to the name of petitioner’s mother.

The reason for rejection of petitioner’s request was that there was delay on her part in seeking correction in class X certificate in accordance with the provisions of examination bye-laws of the CBSE; and so far as XII standard’s certificate was concerned, it was not in consonance with the school records and therefore, a Gazette notification was required for changing the name.

The Court relied on Subin Mohammed S. v. Union of India, 2015 SCC OnLine Ker 34544 where it was held that in case of delay in seeking correction in a certificate, the said correction can be carried out by imposing a fine of Rs 5000. As far as the class XII certificate was concerned, petitioner’s application was within time, and the change sought by the petitioner was in accordance with her birth certificate in which the name of her mother was shown correctly.

In view of the above, the impugned order was set aside directing the respondent 2 to reconsider the application submitted by the petitioner in accordance with law at the earliest.[Archa Mohan v. Controller of Examinations, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1161, decided on 01-04-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): In a landmark case CIC held that a candidate can seek answer sheets of other candidates and that this is not marred by Section 8(1)(e) and Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act. However, it is subject to Sections 3 and 6.

The departmental examination which was conducted to decide the promotion on the job for the post of EO/AO comprised of four papers, out of which three were objective and one was descriptive in nature. Since the fourth paper was descriptive, no model answers were prepared. Around 3,000 candidates appeared in the exam out of which only 5 candidates were selected and this appellant was qualified but was not in the final list of four selected candidates as there were only four vacancies while the appellant stood at Number 5. Appellant wanted model answers for the Fourth Question paper also. The public authority has disclosed the questions and answers of all the candidates regarding three papers but refused to give four answer-sheets of four qualified candidates to the appellant. The appellant claimed that he wanted to check the answers given by four who topped above him and where he lacked in and if he was really ineligible to secure promotion.

The legality of demanding answer sheet in the examination is in principle upheld by the Supreme Court in CBSE v. Aditya Bandhopadhyay, (2011) 8 SCC 497 provided that the request is made during a reasonable time in which the authorities are expected to retain the answer scripts. SC held that answer book also does not fall under any of the exemption provided under (a) to (j) of sub-section 1 of Section 8 of RTI Act. So, an examining body does not hold the evaluated answer books in a fiduciary relationship under Section 8(1)(e).

In Kewal Singh Gautam v. State of Chhattisgarh, AIR 2011 Chh 143, Chhattisgarh High Court held that conduct of examination by the departmental agency for promotion in Govt. department, are not private activities, but in public domain and the checking and evaluation of answer sheet by an examiner and the marks given by him upon assessment of performance has nothing to do with the privacy of either the examiner or those who are responsible for conducting the examination so Section 8 (1)(j) is not attracted.

In Centre of Earth Science Studies v. Dr. Mrs. Anson Sebastian 2010 SCC OnLine Ker 541, where one employee sought information pertaining to documents relating to domestic enquiry against another employee and also for getting entries in confidential report of six other employees of the appellant, repelling the claim of exemption under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act of 2005, the Division Bench of High Court of Kerala held that provision of Section 8(1)(j) are not attracted.

CIC analysed that in CBSE v. Aditya Bandopadhya, (2011) 8 SCC 497 the Supreme Court said no, but on certain practical issues. The CBSE pleaded that if it has to share certified copies of answer-sheets of other to each and every candidate seeking under RTI, it would lead to chaos and divert substantial resources. In UPSC v. Angesh Kumar,  (2018) 4 SCC 530,  the Court read the inherent limitation in Sections 3 and 6 as pertaining to revelation of information that is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information. The Supreme Court referred to the problems in showing evaluated answer sheets in the UPSC Civil Services Examination in Prashant Ramesh Chakkarwar v. UPSC, (2013) 12 SCC 489.

CIC observed that the most important point was that the rejection in CBSE and UPSC cases was not based on any exception under Section 8(1) including (e) & (j). CIC concluded that no such difficulty exists in the present case and the appellant was entitled to get copies of answer sheet of the four candidates who topped. [Shailendra Kumar Singh v. PIO, EPFO, CIC/EPFOG/A/2018/614958, decided on 08-06-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Rebuking the State of Kerala seeking to impose its authority over schools that provide apparently quality education, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ said:

“The fundamental right to free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 and 14 years postulates good quality education and not just education for the sake of providing education. Regulation of such education is permissible by law and not by executive fiat.”

The Court was hearing the issue pertaining to guidelines issued by the State to the schools seeking affiliation. The guidelines stipulated the requirement of minimum 3 acres of land and a minimum 300 enrolled students for obtaining NOC for affiliation.

Requirement of minimum 3 acres of land:

State of Kerala: A school seeking an NOC for affiliation to the CBSE must have 3 acres of land out of which 2 acres should be contiguous and in the actual location of the school.

Court: According to the CBSE Bye-Laws, the minimum land requirement varies from location to location. In metropolitan and capital cities as well as in hilly areas, it would be difficult to get 3 acres of land or even 2 acres of land. Similarly, due to the terrain it would perhaps be difficult to get adequate land in the North Eastern region of the country as well as in Jammu & Kashmir. This realism deserves to be contrasted with non-realistic inflexibility of Kerala which too has some hilly areas where perhaps it might be difficult to find 3 acres of land.

“It appears to us that the rigid requirement of Kerala indicates that it is imposed upon the schools that seek affiliation with the CBSE only with a view to unnecessarily burden them with an onerous and arbitrary condition, since Kerala believes it has the authority to do so.”

Requirement of minimum enrolment of 300 students:

State of Kerala: If a school does not have a minimum of 300 students, it would be difficult for that school to pay the required wages of the staff and the teachers except by charging exorbitant fees.

Court: There is no material on record to substantiate such a conclusion and it is based merely on the ipse dixit of the State.

“We do not see how, if the number of students is less than 300, it will detract from the quality of education imparted to the students. In other words, the requirement of a minimum strength of 300 students is a completely arbitrary figure arrived at by Kerala and which has no rational nexus with quality education or the CBSE Affiliation Bye-laws.”

Requirement of compulsory Aadhaar for enrolment of students:

The Court left the issue open to await the decision of Constitution Bench in the ongoing Aadhaar matter.

[State of Kerala v. Mythri Vidya Bhavan English M. Sch.,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 481, decided on 02.05.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rekha Palli, J., disposed of a petition against CBSE, filed by petitioners who claimed to be holders of Diploma in Elementary Education/Bachelor of Education.

The petitioners were seeking directions to the respondents by the Court to hold the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) as expeditiously as possible. The petitioners contended that the petitioners are all eligible to be appointed as Primary Teachers/Trained Graduate Teachers however, they are not able to apply for the same against the vacancies being advertised by various employers only on account of not possessing the CTET. Respondent 1 (CBSE) pleaded that though it is authorized to conduct the examination but the same is done only upon instructions to that effect from Respondent 2 (NCTE) and that it has received no requisite instruction to that effect. NCTE, referred to Paras 4 and 11 of the guidelines for conducting TET, to contend that they have already authorised Respondent 1 to conduct the exam, and Respondent 1 has to conduct the same from time to time.

The Court, noting that lack of communication between the parties and the resulting loss to eligible candidates, directed Respondent 1 to expeditiously hold the next CTET examination within four months. Respondent 2 undertook the responsibility to write a letter in this regard to Respondent 1 within one week with any change in the syllabus. The petition was accordingly, disposed of in the above terms. [Himanshu Dabas v. CBSE,  2018 SCC OnLine Del 8350, decided on 12.04.2018]

Hot Off The PressNews

The Ministry of Human Resource Development has constituted a ‘High Powered Committee’ to examine the entire system of conducting Class X and Class XII examination conducted by the CBSE with a view to prevent leakages.

The terms of reference of the Committee are as under:

(a) To revisit all aspects related to the security checks built into the system for ensuring that the question papers reach the examinees without tampering.

(b) To examine and assess all areas of potential weakness in the present system of transporting question papers from the printing presses to the examinees.

 (c) To suggest ways in which the system can be made more secure with the use of technology and minimization of human intervention.

The 7 member committee includes:

  1. Shri Vinay Sheel Oberoi, Retd. Secy., (Higher Education), MHRD — Chairperson
  2. Shri Pavnesh Kumar, Retd. Controller of Examination(CBSE) & Former Secy.,(UP Examination Board) — Member
  3. J.S. Rajput, India representative on the executive board of UNESCO, former director (NCERT) & former Chairman (NCTE) — Member
  4. Vasudha Kamat, Independent Director (IRCON) & Former VC (SNDT Women’s University) — Member
  5. Krishna Mohan Tripathy (Ex-Director of Education, UP) & Chairman (Board of High School & Intermediate Education, UP)— Member
  6. Senior representative of DG (NIC)Member
  7. Joint Secretary (SE-II) — Member

The Committee has been directed to submit its report by/on/before 31-05-2018.

[Press Release no. 1527577, dt. 04-04-2018]

Ministry of Human Resource Development

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Bench of SA Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ dismissed all 5 petitions challenging the decision of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to conduct a re-examination of the Class 12 economics paper after an alleged leak. The Bench said that it is CBSE’s discretion to conduct the re-examination and can’t be challenged in the Court.

Several petitions were filed before the Court after the CBSE said on March 28 that the Class 10 maths and Class 12 economics paper had allegedly leaked. The CBSE, however, said yesterday that it has found after assessment there was no impact of alleged paper leak of Class 10 maths paper and no re-examination would be held.

Besides challenging the CBSE’s decision to conduct retest, the petitioners also wanted a CBI probe into the alleged paper leak, saying several incidents were reported from various states and Delhi Police was not competent to hold the nation-wide probe. One of the petitioners also sought a direction to the CBSE to declare the results on the basis of the examinations already conducted.

A petition filed by the students read:

“To penalise the student community for an incident which is under investigation and without completion of that investigation/enquiry and issuing a notice on March 28, 2018 (for re-exams), affects the fundamental rights of students which is arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional.”

Source: PTI

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the incidents of papers leak of Class X and XII board examinations being conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Reportedly, two cases have been registered on charges of criminal breach of trust, cheating and criminal conspiracy and some arrests have been made.
The Commission has observed that prima facie, it seems the concerned authorities have failed to keep the faith of the students, intact. The humiliation being faced by the innocent students is amounting to violation of their Rights to Dignity and Education. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Chairperson, Central Board of Secondary Education and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development is also expected to inform the Commission about the steps taken regarding counselling of the aggrieved students and to make the process of conducting board examinations trustworthy and foolproof to avoid recurrence of such painful incidents in future.
The Commission has further observed that such instances would adversely affect the credibility of the institutions in which the students have absolute faith. The students have been undergoing trauma engulfed with helplessness, heart break and mental agony during examinations days. The parents and the teachers try their best to counsel and motivate the students to remain calm and confident these days. Several government and non-government agencies including the media also contribute to impart ancillary support to the students to deal with the anxiety, attached to the board examinations. In spite of all the best efforts made by every stake holder, if the preparations done by the students go in vain due to such demoralizing and unexpected incidents like paper leak, it would definitely shatter the enthusiasm of the young aspiring students.
According to the media reports, six students were detained by the police in Jharkhand’s Chatra district and the Crime Branch of Delhi police has also been cracking down. Several persons including administrators of some WhatsApp groups, coaching centre’s owners and tutors were questioned about the leak and as per recent media reports, three teachers have been arrested and an official of the CBSE has been placed under suspension.
Reportedly, the CBSE authorities have announced that the examinations for Class XII pertaining to the subjects in which papers were leaked, will be conducted again on 25 April, 2018. With regard to re-examination of Mathematics paper of Class X, it is informed that the decision will be taken in next 15 days. It is also reported by some newspapers that as the Class X paper leak was restricted to Delhi-NCR and Haryana, the re-test will take place in these regions only in the month of July, 2018. As stated by the CBSE authorities, the decision has been taken in the interest of the children and an inquiry into the leak is underway. The matter is being investigated into by the police and an intra departmental probe is also being conducted.

National Human Rights Commission

 

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Staying the order of the MAdras High Court that stayed the declaration of results of NEET examination for admission in MBBS and BDS courses, the Court asked the CBSE to declare the result by June 26, 2017. The Court directed the authorities concerned to proceed with the process of declaration of results, subsequent counselling and admission as per the schedule fixed by it earlier.

The bench of P.C. Pant and Deepak Gupta, JJ also asked all the High Courts to refrain from entertaining any petition in matters relating to NEET examination 2017 that was conducted on 07.05.2017, as it affects the schedule of the examination.

The cancellation of the exam  and conduct of re-exam was sought due to alleged question paper leak. Madras High Court had, hence, on 24.05.2017, granted stay on the declaration of the result. The CBSE approached the Supreme Court for urgent hearing of the matter praying that it should be allowed to declare the result as the entire schedule of counselling and subsequent admission for medical courses through NEET has gone haywire.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition seeking quashing of admission notice issued by CBSE dated 31.1.2017 that stipulates the maximum age of 25 years as eligible candidates to undergo the NEET examination, the bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ said that, prima facie, such an age limit could not have been determined by way of a notice on the basis of the instructions issued by the Medical Council of India and that it is appropriate to direct that all the desirous candidates will be allowed to fill up the forms on the online portal of the CBSE on or before 5.4.2017.

It was contended by the petitioners that in the absence of Regulations framed by the Medical Council of India with regard to the age limit, by issuance of a notice, the age limit could not have been determined and that there are students who, after graduation, are also desirous of taking NEET examination to become doctors.

Directing that the online portal shall be opened from today evening, the Court said that if the competent authority of the CBSE seeks any logistic support from the agencies for having additional centres in the District, the Collector of the concerned District or the Commissioner of the City whoever is the authority will extend all the support so that the forms are accepted and the examinations are held on the date fixed by making different centres available.

The Court further clarified that if any High Court has passed any order contrary to the present order, the CBSE shall be bound by the order passed by this Court as far as the cut-off date is concerned. However, no High Court in the country shall interfere with regard to any litigation pertaining to choosing/allocation of centres.

The matter will be taken up in the second week of July, 2017 for final hearing. [Rai Sabyasachi v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 303, order dated 31.03.2017]