Orissa High Court

Assessment of performance of an examinee in an examination is not ordinarily entertained by Courts but if facts of a particular case justify interference, Court should not shirk its responsibility- OHC

(1990) 70 CutLT 303

ORISSA HIGH COURT

DIVISION BENCH

( Before : R.C. Patnaik, Acting C.J.; K.C. Jagdeb Roy, J )

JASHODHARA PADHI  Vs. COUNCIL OF HIGHER SECONDARY EDUCATION, ORISSA AND OTHERS

O.J.C. No. 2749 of 1989

Decided on : 16-10-1989

Constitution of India, 1950 – Article 14

Counsel for Appearing Parties

P.K. Mishra, A.K. Nanda, S.K. Swain and R.K. Nayak, for the Appellant; R.K. Mohapatra, B. Routray, S.K. Nayak, R.K. Dash and S. Pati, for the Respondent

JUDGMENT

R.C. Patnaik, A.C.J.

1. The Petitioner, a candidate for the +2 examination, 1989, conducted by the Council of Higher. Secondary Education, Orissa, Bhubaneswar, has filed this writ application for revaluation/reassessment of her answers have regard to her career and performance at the, examination and the extra-ordinary and peculiar situations that prevailed on account of the strike of the college teacher.

2. The Courts do not ordinarily trespass into the field exclusively ear-marked for the universities and examining bodies in the matter of assessment of performance of candidates at examinations. The reasons are obvious. The Judges by and large do not have the requisite expertise or capability for the purpose and secondly, as a matter of policy. Hence, it is said that revaluation or reassessment of performance of an examinee at an examination conducted by the statutory authorities like the universities and the Council of Higher Secondary Education etc. are out of bounds of Courts. We are cognizant of this aspect of law.

3. However, the aforesaid is not and cannot be an absolute proposition. If cases arises where there has been gross undervaluation either due to malice, caprice, negligence or incompetence, can it still be said that the principle shall apply. Even if it is perceived that a candidate who is entitled to ear marks out of 100 but has been awarded 20 marks only, should the Courts still be injuncted? Where the undervaluation is demonstrably gross and there can be no doubt about it, should it still be said that the Courts should not interfere?

Where the career and future of a student are in great jeopardy, should the Courts still look on helplessly? We are of the view that total prohibition, whatever may be the facts and circumstances, would be contrary to the rule of law under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

4. It has been asserted by the Petitioner that she secured 90 per cent of marks in the I.C.S.E. held in the year 1987. She has contended that she would secure not less than 79 per cent of marks in English whereas she has been awarded 50 marks in Paper I and 46 marks in Paper II. In view of the allegation, the answer Papers in English were produced before us; pursuant to our request to the counsel for the opposite party. We went through the answer papers. We were very much impressed by the literary style, diction, vocabulary potential and the control over grammar and composition of the Petitioner. Her essay on. An unforgettable day was of high order in literary style. The introduction to the essay was a beautiful piece. So also the conclusion. We were surprised that a candidate who had such strong vocabulary literary style diction and attainments in literature was awarded only 34 per cent (vide question No. 7 in English Paper II) – a bare pass mark. In our opinion the performance of the candidate was such as regards the essay and other answers that she’ could not have secured less than first class marks. We, therefore, suggested to the counsellor the parties that the answer papers should be revalued by an expert. The counsel suggested that the identity of the expert should not be disclosed. We, therefore, without disclosing the identity, requested Prof. (Mrs.) Pravat Nalini Das, M.A. (All), M.A. (Minn), a retired professor and Head of the Department of English of Utkal University, an acknowledged authority in and for three decades an examiner for under-Graduate, Graduate and Post-graduate students in English and a former Pro-Chancellor of Nehru University to reassess the answers and furnish her opinion. She revalued 0 each answer. She opined that the Petitioner was entitled to 71 marks out of 100 in Papa I in place of 50 marks that she had secured and 79 marks out of 100 in Paper- II in place of 46. In the opinion of Prof. Das the Petitioner was entitled to 18 marks out of 25 in the essay, i.e. she has entitled to 72 percent marks in place of 34 per ‘Cent” that the had secured. In our opinion, the Petitioner could not have secured a bare pass mark in the essay. Regarding her performance, Prof. Das has said:

As requested by you in your telephonic message to me, I have valued the two answer papers. The standard of the student in question is very much higher than those who pass the examination in English at the Higher Secondary level. The language is almost flawless idiomatic and reveals a vocabulary control which is difficult to find at the Hons. and M.A. stages in the present state of our education system these days. In addition, the subject matter is more than adequate. In grades, I would evaluate the papers as A.

We are firmly convinced that the answers of the Petitioner bad been grossly undervalued and revaluation of Prof, Das, who is an erudite scholar and vastly experienced as an examiner is just and correct. There ought to be proper valuation of performance though there is scope of difference of opinion. No two opinions would be the same. But where the difference is 21 in one paper and 33 in the other, there is justification for holding that the answers have been grossly undervalued and under-assessed which might have been due to several causes.

5. We have proceeded strictly objectively. We have taken no note of the situation that prevailed in the State sometime back, namely, that the college teachers went on strike and valuation of answer papers became a problem for the authorities. There has been much clamour against the system of central valuation and the debate is going on. We have not been influenced by the same. That is a matter within the exclusive jurisdiction of the educationists, and the experts. They should decide if the present system of valuation of answer papers is just and proper. If having regard to the circumstance, the answers are being properly valued by competent and honest examiners or if there is any flaw in the system of selection and assessment of answer papers. There ought not to be any doubt in the system which was not there previously. But central valuation is being assailed more often now than before. Hundreds of cases have been filed in this Court itself. Even in some cases, the performance of candidates has been reviewed by the examining authority. In some case, the candidate who was declared to have passed in the third division has been declared to have passed in the first division. Upon the intervention of this Court, the error came to light. In some cases, there have been gross mistakes in addition of marks. Thousands of students have approached the Board for revaluation and readdition. This has never happened previously. Hence, something happened this year.

6. We began saying that challenge to the assessment of performance of an examinee at an examination is not ordinarily entertained by the Courts but if the facts of a particular case justify interference, we are of the view, this Court should not shirk its responsibility. There should not be any apprehension that this Court has opened the floodgate. Because this Court has refused to entertain hundreds of cases seeking interference by this Court by way of revaluation. But occasionally one case of exceptional merit might stand out pleading for interference. And this is that case.

Anybody who peruses the answer papers of this Petitioner would be highly impressed and would agree with Prof. Das that her performance in English was not average but extraordinary and of A grading.

7. These are the reasons for our order dated 27-9-1989 requiring the Council to modify the marks secured by the Petitioner in English Paper I and Paper II.

K.C. Jagadeb Roy, J.

I agree.

Writ petition allowed.

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