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CBSE re-exam for Mathematics, Economics challenged in Supreme Court

Murali Krishnan

Two Petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the decision taken by the Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE) to re-conduct the Mathematics Paper for Class-X and Economics paper for Class-XII.

The petitions have been filed by Rohan Mathew, a Class X student of Choice School, Tripunithara and Reepak Kansal, a lawyer.

Rohan Mathew

Since Rohan Mathew is a minor, he is being represented by his father, Santhosh Mathew who is a lawyer.

Mathew has challenged the decision to hold re-exam for Mathematics for class-X.

In the petition drawn by advocates Raghenth Basant and Santosh Mathew and filed through advocate Liz Mathew, the petitioner has contended that cancelling the exam and holding re-exam based on mere apprehension that there is a likelihood of the exam having been compromised is violative of the proportionality doctrine.

“The decision of CBSE in cancelling the examination and ordering a reexamination is highly disproportionate to the alleged incident. It is respectfully submitted that the it appears that CBSE has cancelled the examination as the first resort, instead of it being the last resort.

….causing inconvenience to lakhs of students due to mere apprehension that there is a likelihood that the exam is compromised is violative of the proportionality doctrine.”

Mathew has taken the stand that the CBSE exam is conducted maintaining confidentiality of the highest nature. Therefore, the decision taken by the CBSE to re-conduct Mathematics Paper of Class-X in view of the information received about the likelihood of exam having been compromised, is totally arbitrary and illegal and goes against the legitimate expectation of the Petitioner as well as 16 Lakh other students of Class-X who had appeared for the Mathematics exam.

Mathew has placed reliance on the case of Tanvi Sarwal V. CBSE and others in which the Supreme Court had ordered fresh examination only after it was convinced that the examination was exposed to a deep-rooted conspiracy of a gang of persons who, with the aid of electronic devices, had been able to access the beneficiary candidates with the answer keys during the tests as to enable them to solve the question papers.

“It is only in light of startling and alarming disclosures consequent to various status reports obtained by this Hon’ble Court disclosing the involvement of parents that this Hon’ble Court was pleased to direct re-examination. However, no such disclosures have been made in the present case”, the petition states.

Further, it is also the petitioner’s contention that the allegation of leak of question paper pertains only to certain areas coming under the Delhi Region of the CBSE. Thus, penalizing more than 16 lakh students, who appeared for the Mathematics Examination in India and abroad, for an incident which allegedly took place in one centre, is arbitrary and illegal in the absence of any evidence to show that the entire examination process was vitiated.

Contending that the decision to conduct a re-examination, is totally arbitrary and illegal and violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 21 and 21A, the petitioner has made, inter alia, the following prayers:

  • issue a writ or order or direction in the nature of mandamus or any other appropriate writ or order quashing the decision taken by CBS to reconduct the Mathematics Paper of Class-X and issue appropriate directions to CBSE to proceed with the valuation of the answer-sheets of Mathematics Exam;
  • to declare that the decision taken by the CBSE to reconduct the Mathematics Examination for Class-X students is arbitrary and illegal and violative of Article 14 and Article 21 and 21A of the Constitution of India;
  • issue a writ or order or direction in the nature of mandamus or any other appropriate writ or order, constituting a Special High Powered Committee to conduct a detailed enquiry into the facts and circumstances which lead to the decision taken by CBSE to reconduct the Mathematics Examination and take stringent action against the erring officers of the C.B.S.E for jeopardizing the career of nearly 16 Lakh students who appeared for the said examination.

This petition is likely to be mentioned before the Chief Justice of India on April 2 for early listing.

Reepak Kansal

The second petition filed by advocate Reepak Kansal is styled as a public interest litigation.

Kansal has assailed the decision to hold re-exam for Economics exam for class XII and Maths exam for class X.

In the petition drawn by advocate Ashutosh Garg and himself, Kansal has stated that rumours of question paper leakage were circulating on social media via Whatsapp several hours before the exams were conducted. Despite the same, the CBSE had denied any leak of question papers and had urged students and parents to not to panic.

Subsequently, after the exams were over, taking note of the fact that the issue was raised by public spirited media persons, the CBSE decided to re-conduct the examination by a notice dated March 28, 2018.

“The negligence of CBSE is evident from the fact that it even did not followed the established norms of keeping at least one extra set of question papers reserved in contingencies, like this.

It is when the responsibility taken by some Electronic and Print Media thereafter, on 28/03/2018, the respondent / CBSE issued a notice dated 28/03/2018 in hurry to suppress its negligence”

Kansal has submitted that a thorough probe needs to be conducted to find out the real culprit(s) responsible for leakage of question papers and the same would take time. Hence, it is not proper to hold re-examination immediately.

“It is submitted that it can only be ascertained after the investigation that how many papers were leaked and circulated on social media by the Crime Branch as stated by investigating official.  It is also matter of investigation that to find out the real culprit (s) who is responsible for leakage of question papers and area of circulation of question papers etc which would take time”, therefore, it is not proper to hold the re-examination as per notice dated 28.03.2018 and there is no proper reasoning for re-conducting only two examinations in the said notice dated 28.03.2018 by the CBSE.”

Further, Kansal has also submitted that usually four different sets of papers are prepared for Delhi, rest of India, schools outside India, and one for reserve. However, this norm was totally ignored for unknown reasons this time and a single set of question paper was framed for all the students.

It is the petitioner’s case that students who don’t have to take re-exam will have more time to prepare for competitive entrance examinations and therefore, the Right to Equality of students who would have to appear for re-exam will be violated.

“It is submitted that due to inaction/ wrong actions of CBSE officials fundamental rights of students has been violated, who have been falling in the category of re-examination, as they would not have proper time and opportunity to appear in their respective competitive examinations and are undergoing mental stress and agony due to actions of CBSE officials, which naturally affect their performance whereas the students who do not fall in the category of re-examination would have more time and opportunity to prepare and appear in their respective competitive examinations”

Kansal’s prayers are also similar to that of Rohan Mathew’s but they extend to Economics exam also.

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