Legal Correspondent

Directive to High Courts in West Bengal case

If revaluation is allowed as a matter of right, it may lead to uncertainty

In the absence of statutory provision, courts cannot direct re-assessment

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked High Courts not to order revaluation in public examinations routinely. Revaluation or re-assessment could be done only in exceptional cases.

Quoting an earlier decision, a Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and P. Sathasivam, said public examination results, when published, “should have some finality attached to them. If inspection, verification in the presence of the candidates and revaluation are to be allowed as of right, it may lead to gross and indefinite uncertainty, particularly in regard to the relative ranking, etc, of the candidates, besides leading to utter confusion on account of the enormity of the labour and time involved in the process.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Pasayat said: “The court should be extremely reluctant to substitute its own views as to what is wise, prudent and proper in relation to academic matters for those formulated by professional men possessing technical expertise and rich experience of actual day-to-day working of educational institutions and the departments controlling them. It would be wholly wrong for the court to make a pedantic and purely idealistic approach to problems of this nature.”

The Bench said courts should not direct the production of answer scripts to be inspected by petitioners unless a case was made out that either a question had not been evaluated or that evaluation had been done contrary to the norms fixed by the examining body.

Model answers

For example, in certain cases the examining body could provide model answers to questions.

In such cases, the examinees must satisfy the court that the model answer was different from what had been adopted by the Board.

Only then could the court ask for production of answer scripts to allow inspection by the examinees, the Bench said.

“In the absence of a statutory provision, court cannot direct re-assessment/re-examination of answer scripts.”

In the instant case, the Calcutta High Court directed revaluation of the answer script of Ayan Das in an English paper in the Madhyamik (Secondary) examination conducted by the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education in 2004.

Appeal

The aggrieved State Education department filed an appeal, pointing out that there was no provision in any statute permitting inspection of answer sheets or re-assessment.

But in view of the High Court direction, the student was allowed to inspect the answer sheet.

The apex court Bench allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment.