The Delhi High Court ordered that the evaluation for the class 10 and 12 board exams this year (2017) shall be done as per the grace marks policy that was in vogue when the students submitted the examination forms.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal & Justice Pratibha M Singh refused to allow the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) to withdraw its marks moderation policy for the board exams held this year, saying "rules cannot be changed after the game has begun".
Under the marks moderation policy, grace marks are given to the students in exams for difficult questions or question with errors in the papers.
Don’t instill insecurity in students. Don't do it (withdrawal of the policy) this year: Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court said the students who took the (CBSE board) exams "ought to have been put to notice" as they have the "right to know" what the CBSE was doing.
"These children, who have worked so hard & have burnt the midnight oil, are entitled to some stability and the only stability they know is the system. Do not instill insecurity in them. Don't do it (withdrawal of the policy) this year," the bench said.
"You cannot play with the future of students," it said, adding "we are deeply concerned by the timing of the policy." The court further added.
CBSE's decision was "wonderful: Delhi HC
The court said while the CBSE's decision was "wonderful" as it was attempting to bring uniformity in the evaluation process to resolve the issue of "spiking" of marks, it "should have been done prospectively & uniformly for everyone across the country".
The ruling assumes significance as some states, like Tamil Nadu & Chhattisgarh have decided not to withdraw the marks moderation policy this year.
Ignorance of Conditional admission to Indian Students by foreign varsities based on evaluation policy in place
One of the most "distressing" factor was that the CBSE had "completely ignored" the fact that conditional admission had been offered to Indian students by foreign varsities on the basis of the evaluation policy in place while it decided to withdraw the moderation policy.
It said the students who would have got such offers would have taken loans and made payments and if the policy is withdrawn, it would cause "grave and irreparable financial loss" to the children.
"It can’t be denied that a change in policy can have drastic consequences. Grave & irreparable financial loss may also enure to the students," the bench said and added that it may also "completely change the course of academic future of students, especially those of Delhi."
The court said it "would be a tragedy" if the CBSE students lose out on seats in foreign varsities to children from other countries due to the change in evaluation policy.
Some state boards have already given the benefit of the moderation policy
"Don't trouble the children who have given the exams," it said while hearing a PIL by a parent and an advocate challenging the Board's decision to withdraw the moderation policy.
Senior advocate Balbir Singh, appearing for the petitioners, argued that already some states have declared the exam results for Class 10 & Class 12 and they have given the students the benefit of the marks moderation policy.
He also added that students of such states would stand a better chance of getting the 10,000 seats in the Delhi University as compared to students of the national capital.
CBSE to Delhi HC: No student had a vested right to expect that his or her marks would be increased
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for CBSE, said no student had a vested right to expect that his or her marks would be increased. He further added that it was decided to withdraw the policy to address the issue of "spiking of marks".
The Delhi High Court, however, said that no matter how many guidelines are there, it "can’t change human nature, human error or psychology" as it was impossible for an examiner who checks thousands of answer sheets to give his or her 100 % to the process of evaluation.
The bench said even exceptionally sensitive & well trained teachers would find it impossible to maintain objectivity after checking 10-15 answer sheets. "It is a horrible job," it said while terming as "ridiculous" the marking system in place.
CBSE told the High Court “the withdrawal of the policy had begun on April 24 this year and the decision was approved on May 4 and circulated on May 10.”
To this, the bench pointed out that even on May 10, the Board had "not seen it fit" to inform the students about the change in policy.
The court noted that the meeting for change in policy took place on April 24 after majority of the exams had got over and the evaluation of some subjects had already started.
The court said that the petitioners, Rakesh Kumar & advocate Ashish Verma, have made out a prima facie case to show that "grave and irreparable loss" would be caused if no interim protection is granted.
It told the Board to follow the evaluation policy which was in place when the students had submitted the exam forms and listed the PIL for further hearing on July 20.
The Delhi High Court had yesterday termed as "unfair and irresponsible" the CBSE's decision to scrap its 'moderation policy'.
The plea had also contended that the decision denies a level-playing field to CBSE students, as compared to those of other State Boards and entities, in matters of college admissions and grant of streams, among others.
With inputs from Press Trust of India.