MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has ordered the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to grant grace marks to the 24,000-odd students who took the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in Tamil this year. The court has directed CBSE to publish a fresh list of qualified candidates within two weeks and has stayed all current proceedings which are being undertaken based on the present candidate list. Board officials told Express they were contemplating appealing the order.
A division bench, comprising Justices C T Selvam and A M Basheer Ahamed, passed the order on Tuesday following a Public Interest Litigation by T K Rangarajan, a CPI (M) MP, seeking direction to provide 196 marks for students who wrote NEET in Tamil, citing translation errors in 49 of 180 questions in the exam. Stating that students who took NEET-2018 in Tamil should be suitably compensated to provide them with a level playing field, the bench directed CBSE to grant them four marks for each of the 49 erroneous questions, ie 196 marks.
“Consequently, the Board should revise the list of qualified candidates and publish it afresh. It shall then be open to the authorities concerned to go about counselling the eligible candidates,” said the bench, adding that list of qualified candidates shall be kept in abeyance as would be counselling sessions, till CBSE publishes the revised list. Earlier, the bench said it could not accept CBSE’s explanation that ‘in case of ambiguity in questions in regional language, their English version is final’. The court asked how CBSE could determine NEET marks of Tamil medium students based on their proficiency in English language. The Bench further said that if the Supreme Court permits use of technical terms which cannot be easily translated 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.
The Bench also asked CBSE on what basis private students were being denied a chance to write NEET. “Our constitutional scheme is inclusive, not exclusive,” it said, adding it hoped authorities would consider the issue.
196 marks for Tamil medium students
Chennai: On the issue of CBSE publishing answer key on its website and calling for suggestions from students, based on which experts would decide the most appropriate answer, the Madurai bench said, “We are left wondering whether the CBSE, a board entrusted with conducting examinations at the national level could be so uncertain about the answers to the questions.” Attaining such level of precision may be suitable for civil service examinations but difficult when it comes to NEET which is attempted by students in the age group of 17 to 18. The bench also asked CBSE on what basis private students were being denied the chance to write NEET. “Is it because they do not put ‘n’ number of fixed hours of study or is it because science subjects require practical training which they are not exposed to?” asked the bench, pointing out that thousands of children pursue private study while supporting their family by earning some money. “Our constitutional scheme is inclusive, not exclusive,” said the bench.
The court asked why private candidates were not eligible to take the NEET and pointed out that thousands opted for private study due to family circumstances.
The court said that the precision of answers required by CBSE while appropriate for candidates of competitive exams was hard on students of 17 and 18 years of age.