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Handwriting plays havoc in Civil Judge examination

Mohamed Imranullah S.
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Examiners struggle to decipher answers written by aspirants to judicial post

Learning to write in a neat and, more importantly, legible handwriting is a must even in the era of computers and objective type examination patterns. This fact has been amply proved in the recently held Civil Judges recruitment examination conducted on the basis of essay type questions for better assessment of the candidates' suitability to the nature of the job.

According to sources in the Madras High Court, which conducted the examination on its own without the assistance of Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission, one of the most difficult tasks faced by the examiners (District Judges) as well as supervisors (High Court Judges) was to decipher the “awful” handwriting of the candidates.

One of the aspirants to the post had recently filed a writ petition in the High Court seeking revaluation of his answer script. Armed with a copy of the answer sheet, he claimed to have been originally awarded eight marks for the answer given by him to question number 2 in Law Paper-II. But the number ‘8’ was overwritten with a zero thereby making him fail in that paper.

During the hearing of the case, a Division Bench of Justices N. Paul Vasanthakumar and M. M. Sundresh said that they could not understand anything of what the petitioner had written. They asked the petitioner’s counsel to read the answer. But he too could not. Then, the answer script was circulated among two other lawyers who also failed to read the lengthy answer beyond two lines.

When the counsel suggested that the petitioner himself could be asked to read the answer given by him, the judges rejected it by stating that legible handwriting was a sine qua non (essential element) of written examinations as the candidates could not be allowed to sit next to every other examiner and explain their answers at the time of evaluation.

Ultimately, the Bench dismissed the writ petition on the ground that the recruitment notification does not provide for revaluation of answer scripts.

The court sources went on to state that the examiner had actually awarded zero marks to the candidate after a careful analysis of the answer which was deciphered after much toil and found to be totally incorrect.

As per question number two in Law Paper II, the candidates were asked to frame issues and write a judgement in a fictitious civil dispute. Though the question clearly stated that the suit must be presumed to have been filed within four months of entering into a contract, the writ petitioner had answered that the suit was liable to be dismissed as it was barred by limitation (the period within which a case could be filed).

“A suit will be barred by limitation only if it is filed after three years. But by exhibiting utter ignorance of law, the candidate had written a wrong answer that the case had to be dismissed on the ground of limitation. He deserves nothing more than zero marks not only for his illegible handwriting but also for giving a factually wrong answer,” the source added.

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