The High Court of Delhi on Tuesday termed the decision of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to scrap its ‘moderation policy’ as “unfair and irresponsible”.
The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Pratibha M. Singh therefore observed that the Petitioners had made out a prima facie case for grant of interim relief, as far as the examinations in the current sessions are concerned. It then directed continuance of the Policy for the current academic year, and observed, “We are satisfied that grave and irreparable loss and damage would ensure to the students if interim relief is not granted. It is therefore directed that so far as evaluation of the current students who have undertaken CBSE Class X and Class XII examination in the year 2017, the respondents shall follow the declared policy of 2016 including the moderation policy which was in vogue on the date when they submitted their application forms.”
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by a parent and a lawyer, who had contended that the moderation is essential, as it eliminates any form of arbitrariness in evaluation of answer scripts. The Court’s attention was also drawn to the Draft Education Policy, 2016, which had recognized that such difficulties exist and need to be ironed out. They were further aggrieved with the fact that the policy change was neither communicated to the students, nor placed in public domain.
The Court noted that the decision for scrapping the moderation policy was communicated through an Office Memorandum issued by CBSE dated 10 May. This memorandum enclosed minutes of a meeting held by the Secretary (School Education & Literacy) of the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India on 24 April. It thereafter noted that “even as on 10th May, 2017, the CBSE has not thought it fit to notify the students who have actually undertaken the examination process of the decisions taken in the Minutes dated 24th April, 2017, nor has the same been published on its website.”
The Petitioners had then contended that the memorandum does not reflect consideration of any issues which had weighed in favour of formulation and implementation of the moderation policy.
The Court noted that by 24 April, when the Board began the changes in the Policy, several students had already completed their examination, and the evaluation of their answer sheets had commenced. “It needs no elaboration that rules of the game cannot be changed after the game has begun… “We are deeply concerned with the manner in which the change of policy has been effected without notice to students, Universities etc., which may completely change the course of academic future of the students, especially in Delhi where there is no State Board,” it thereafter observed.
The Court further took notice of the fact that several students are now seeking admissions to Universities and institutions, not only in India but also abroad. “It cannot be denied that the change in the evaluation policy, that is, denial of moderation may have drastic consequences for the admission offers, which large number of Class XII students who have taken the CBSE courses and examination would suffer. Neither the said foreign universities nor the students were aware that there would be a change in the policy of the CBSE. We are also informed that many students may have also made arrangement of student loans and may have effected payments of large sums to these foreign universities. Grave and irreparable financial loss would also ensure to these students and their families. If the students are unable to fulfill the conditions imposed by foreign universities owing to the changes in the moderation policy, then it would have a devastating impact on their educational prospects,” it then observed, granting interim relief of continuance of the moderation policy for academic year 2016-17.
Read the Judgment here.