Mistake in Teachers’ Recruitment Board's answer key; HC helps TN candidate get extra mark, job

A postgraduate in English literature, Vinopratha had scored 97.77 marks out of 150 in the written examination but was not selected as the cut-off mark for BC (Women) category was 98.196.

Published: 09th November 2022 08:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2022 08:41 PM   |  A+A-


Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | Pexels)

Express News Service

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court recently came to the rescue of a woman who was unable to get selected in the PG Assistant (English) recruitment, held by Teachers’ Recruitment Board (TRB) in February this year, on account of a mistake in the answer key prepared by the board. The court enabled her to get the extra mark and the job.

Justice GR Swaminathan passed the order on a petition filed by K Vinopratha who alleged she was denied marks for two questions despite giving the correct answers.

The judge observed, “Judicial review cannot be totally ousted in certain circumstances. Where the key answer is manifestly and patently erroneous, interference will be warranted... Otherwise, absurd consequences will ensue as a matter of logical necessity.”

The judge chose to demonstrate this with his own example. “Assume, the question is ‘who is now the Prime Minister of India?’. The candidate writes ‘Shri.Narendra Modi’. If the key answer is ‘Shri.Rahul Gandhi’, will it not be absurd?” he asked.

Though the board argued that the court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain Vinopratha’s petition, the judge relied upon the Supreme Court’s decision in the 1983 Kanpur University case and said, “The court cannot shut its eyes to what is too obvious and apparent. Only an ostrich donning judicial robes will hide its head in the sand.”

After establishing that there was a mistake in the answer key in one of the two questions, he directed TRB to grant an extra one mark to Vinopratha, which would automatically make her eligible as per the cut-off mark, with further direction to the Director of School Education to issue an appointment order to her without delay.

However, the judge drew a line. He clarified that the relief granted would apply only to Vinopratha, who had approached the court as early as September 16, and no new petitions would be entertained even from similarly placed persons since the recruitment process is already over.

A postgraduate in English literature, Vinopratha had scored 97.77 marks out of 150 in the written examination held on February 18 but was not selected as the cut-off mark for BC (Women) category was 98.196. Claiming she was not awarded marks for two questions --- 71 and 108, she sought additional marks.

Firstly, she objected to the fact that question no. 71, in which the candidates were asked to name the narrator of Emily Bronte’s novel ‘Wuthering Heights’, was excluded from evaluation by the board itself owing to a supposed error in the choices given for the question. She claimed that she had given the right answer to it.

But the judge upheld the board’s decision, albeit with an instruction to the board to hold the question paper setters accountable for the mistake.

Question no. 108 pertained to American poet Allen Tate’s view on good poetry, for which the board had reportedly fixed ‘confusion’ as the correct answer in the answer key, instead of ‘tension’.

Pointing out that even the material relied upon by the board’s expert committee showed ‘tension’ to be the right answer, the judge concluded that the answer given by Vinopratha was indeed correct.


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