A day after Bihar’s Education Minister P.K. Shahi said that freeing Board examinations of cheating was impossible in the State without support from society, the Patna High Court observed on Friday that the Minister’s statement was “unfortunate and shameful”.
A senior lawyer drew the attention of a Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice L. Narasimha Reddy and Justice Vikas Jain, towards news reports of the large-scale malpractice in the examinations held on Thursday and the Minister expressing helplessness in checking it. The court converted the reports into a public interest litigation petition.
“The court further directed State Police Chief P.K. Thakur to ensure fair examination across the State,” Basant Kumar Chaudhury, the lawyer, told The Hindu . Later, the court issued summons to Education Department officials for March 27, the next date of hearing.
Rights panel case
Taking suo motu cognisance of the Minister’s statement published in newspapers, the full Bench of the State Human Rights Commission directed all divisional commissioners and senior police and administrative officials of the districts to show zero tolerance to copying. The panel asked officials to file a report within 10 days.
“All measures which are necessary within the framework of law shall be taken to ensure that unauthorised persons do not enter the areas where the examinations are held,” the commission said.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar directed top officials to take steps to ensure fair examinations. “Action will be taken against policemen and magistrates on examination duty if they were found abetting cheating,” Mr. Kumar said after a review meeting with Mr. Shahi and top officials.
Mr. Kumar appealed to the family and friends of the examinees not to help them by passing on cheat sheets as it would be lead to a bleak future for their wards and earn the State a bad name. He described the photographs of cheating published in newspapers as stray ones. “They were not the story of the entire State,” he said.
Following the Chief Minister’s directive, the Education Department cancelled Thursday’s examination held at four centres. “Matriculation examinations held at two centres at Mahnar in Vasihali district and one each at Sharasha and Nawada districts from March 17 to 19 have been cancelled,” said R.K. Mahajan, Principal Secretary, Education Department. “Use of unfair means will be checked at all centres now at all costs.”