“In the 1984 Film “The Karate Kid” wise old Karate Master Mr.Miyagi tells Daniel that “there is no such thing as a bad student, but only a bad teacher.” No matter how good or bad a teacher is, a large portion of the responsibility falls on the student. A child and a teacher are a team, working together to achieve a common goal. A good teacher understands the pressure of the students and always tries to make them feel safe and secure and support them within the classrooms. If a “good teacher” in his anxiety to help the student to handle the pressure allegedly tries to leak the question paper, should the entire student community suffer from that single act of indiscretion on the part of the “good teacher” is the question to be considered by this Hon’ble Court in the present Writ Petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.”
A student of Class X has approached the Supreme Court against the decision of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to cancel and re-conduct the Mathematics exam held on March 28 on suspicion of question paper leakage. The petition has been filed by Rohan Mathew, a CBSE student from Cochin.
Rohan Mathew, who is represented in the petition by his father Santhosh Mathew, a lawyer practicing in the High Court of Kerala, contended that “the decision of CBSE to cancel the exam based on mere apprehension that there is a likelihood of the exam having been compromised is violative of the proportionality doctrine”.
According to him, about 16 lakh students appeared in the exam in 11 regions all over the country and abroad. The unconfirmed suspicion is that the question papers were leaked in certain areas coming under the Delhi Region of the CBSE. Therefore, he stated that to penalise the entire student community for an incident which allegedly took place in one centre, is arbitrary and illegal in the absence of any evidence to show that the entire examination process was vitiated. It is stated in the petition as follows:
It was on March 28 that the CBSE issued the press release informing its decision to re-conduct the Mathematics exam of Class X in view of the information received about the likelihood of the Exam having been compromised. The exam of Economics of Class XII Commerce stream is also going to be similarly re-conducted on very same reasons.
In his petition, Mathew makes reference to the decision of the Supreme Court in Tanvi Sarwal v CBSE and Others [2015 (6) SCC 573], where the CBSE was directed to conduct a fresh medical examination in view of irregularities. It is stated that re-examination was ordered only after being convinced that the examination was exposed to a deep-rooted conspiracy of a gang of persons who with the aid of electronic devices have been able to access the beneficiary candidates with the answer keys during the tests as to enable them to solve the question papers. It was only in light of startling and alarming disclosures consequent to various status reports obtained by the court that re-examination was ordered. However, no such disclosures have been made with regard to the CBSE examination, and the Board was acting on mere apprehensions.
He further pointed out that the question papers were set by the CBSE maintaining utmost confidentiality, and secrecy has been maintained by using multiple set of question papers for the same examination at the same centre/examination hall. Secrecy officers were appointed by the CBSE for maintaining the confidentiality and strict guidelines were issued to ensure that the question papers are in the exclusive custody of the Controller of Examinations and other Officers as identified by the Chairperson of the CBSE. That being the factual position, there is absolutely no justification whatsoever on the part of the CBSE in deciding to reconduct the Mathematics Examination of Class-X on the mere likelihood of the exam having been compromised. The decision is stated to be arbitrary and unreasonable resulting in a violation of his fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 21 and 21A of the Constitution of India. He further stated that he is approaching the Supreme Court directly instead of the high court in view of the wide impact the case could cause to student community all over India.
He, therefore, prayed for quashing the decision of CBSE to re-conduct the examination, and for directing the Board to publish results on the basis of already held examination. He also seeks the setting up of a special high-powered committee to conduct a detailed enquiry into the facts and circumstances which lead to the decision taken by the CBSE.