KOCHI: Maharajas College Ernakulam, run by the government, has triggered a controversy after undergraduate and postgraduate students were forced to write examinations with the help of mobile phone flashlights following a power outage.
Due to the heavy rains on Monday, the college faced a power outage and a majority of the examination halls got immersed in darkness. When the worried students got agitated, the invigilators allowed them to write the examinations with the help of mobile phone flashlights, flouting the rule that bars mobile phones inside exam halls.
Being an autonomous college, the authorities could have cancelled the exam and announced a retest as the students wrote the test holding mobile flashlights in one hand for two hours. The utility of the power generator, bought at the cost of Rs 77 lakh by the college, has also been questioned by the students.
V Anil, the college principal, said an explanation had been sought from the examination superintendent and the person has submitted the same. "The explanation provided by the superintendent will be analysed at the examination standing committee meeting on Wednesday. Measures like cancellation of the examination and disciplinary action against the invigilators will be decided at the standing committee meeting. The final decision will be made at the governing council meeting," he said.
However, a lecturer said, "The result will be invigilators being made the scapegoats." According to the lecturer, who wished to remain anonymous, this situation happened when the RUSA (Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan) fund to the tune of Rs 54 lakh was used to set up a high tension line for the college. "It was hyped that the HT line will forever solve the power outage problems of the college. But the reverse happened and that too during the examination. Instead of setting up standby measures like generators, the authorities acted lackadaisically," alleged another lecturer.
"Can you imagine a situation when the invigilators have to call the KSEB themselves to get the power outage situation rectified?" asked the lecturer. "When the teachers contacted the examination superintendent, he told them to allow mobile phones," said the lecturer. An assistant professor said, "Ours is an autonomous college that sets its examination timetable and question papers. The authorities could have cancelled the examination instead of allowing mobile phones inside the hall. We have become a laughing stock in the academic community."
Examination-in-charge P P Ramesh, however, said the mobile phone flashlights were used only for a short period. "Allegations that students had written the entire examination using the mobile phone flashlights are not correct. The power outage happened at around 10 am. Since this is an HT connection, KSEB engineers are not the ones who are in charge of taking care of the problems with the transformer. We had to call in the PWD engineers. During that short period, the students were allowed to use mobile phones to enter their details on the front page of the answer sheets," he said.
But in a short time, the power was restored and the students wrote the examination, Ramesh said.