MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has ordered the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to grant grace marks to the Tamil medium students who took the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test this year. It has directed the CBSE to publish a fresh list of the qualified candidates within two weeks and has stayed all the current proceedings which are being undertaken based on the present candidate list.
A division bench comprising Justices C T Selvam and A M Basheer Ahamed passed the order following a Public Interest Litigation which was filed by T K Rangarajan, MP from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) seeking direction to provide 196 marks as grace marks for the Tamil medium students citing errors in 49 out of the 180 questions in the Tamil medium question paper in NEET exam this year.
Stating that the students who have taken NEET-2018 examination in Tamil medium should be suitably compensated to provide them with a level playing field in the exam, the Judges directed CBSE to grant four marks for each of the 49 erroneous questions, that is in all 196 marks, to the candidates who took the exam in Tamil.
“Consequently, the Board should revise the list of qualified candidates and publish the same afresh. It shall then be open to the authorities concerned to go about counseling the eligible candidates,” said the Judges, adding that the list of qualified candidates shall be kept in abeyance as would the counseling sessions, pending publishing details of the qualified candidates afresh in keeping with the above order.
Earlier, the Judges stated that they could not accept CBSE’s explanation that ‘in case of ambiguity in questions in regional language, their English version is final’ and criticised CBSE asking how can the Board determine the mark of Tamil medium students in NEET based on their proficiency in English language.
They also remarked that, “the issue of CBSE publishing key answers etc, calling for challenges there to on payment of cost arriving at a decision upon which a decision is taken on what is the most appropriate answer and that such answer would form a basis of correction and grant of marks has been raised before us. We are left wondering whether the CBSE, a board entrusted with the conduct of examination at the national level can be so uncertain about the answers to questions raised by it”. They said that attaining such level of precision of answer will be very difficult in NEET exam which is attended by students in the age of group 17 to 18.
The Judges further expressed that if the Supreme Court permits the using of technical terms which are not capable of easy translation into a regional language, then the student who is to take the NEET exam, be it in any regional language, should be apprised of such terms.
Bringing the attention of the authorities to how students who pursue private study in class 12 are being declared ineligible to write the exam by the Board, the Judges said, “We have tens of thousands of children having to support a mother, sibling, ailing parents and elders and sometimes deserving father, by eking out a living by earning that extra rupee which keeps the home fire burning and yet in real and earnest pursues private study simply because they want to be educated”, and added that the Board should enable such deserving students to hope for a better tomorrow by giving them the chance to appear for the examination in future.