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Judges Cannot Be Experts In All Fields, Experts' Opinion Cannot Be Supplanted By A Court Overstepping Its Jurisdiction: Delhi High Court

Nupur Thapliyal
12 Aug 2022 5:12 AM GMT
Judges Cannot Be Experts In All Fields, Experts Opinion Cannot Be Supplanted By A Court Overstepping Its Jurisdiction: Delhi High Court
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"Judges are not and cannot be experts in all fields, and the opinion of experts cannot be supplanted by a Court overstepping its jurisdiction," the Delhi High Court has observed.

A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad added that in examination matters, a candidate has to demonstrate that the key answers are "patently wrong on the face of it", adding that if there is any exercise conducted by the Court wherein the pros and cons of the arguments given by both sides need to be taken into consideration, then that will "inevitably amount to unwarranted interference on the part of the Court."

"If the error in the question is manifest and palpable, and does not require any elaborate argument, then the Writ court may choose to intervene. However, where the errors do not show their heads without a detailed and elaborate probe into the opinions of experts, the Court must stay its hands. It would not be prudent for a Court to conduct itself like an expert in a subject alien to it when an entire body of experts has arrived at a contradictory stand," the Court said.

The Court was dealing with an appeal filed by National Board of Examination (NBE) against an order passed by single judge on July 5, 2021 in relation to Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE), 2020.

Post-exam review of all the questions on the FMGE Screening Test was conducted between December 12, 2020 and December 12, 2020, and it was stated that no error was found in the same.

The results of the FMGE Screening Test were announced and representations were made to the NBE alleging that one question was technically incorrect. Pursuant to this, the NBE constituted a five-member Expert Committee which concluded that the said question was technically correct, and it was then clarified that the result declared was the final result.

A plea was then filed by Association of MD Physicians, an association consisting of Indian citizens who hold degrees in medicine from foreign universities, claiming that there was a patently erroneous question in the examination paper.

The single judge then ordered for 1 extra mark to be granted to candidates of the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE), in light of the said incorrect question in the paper. Aggrieved by the same, NBE had approached the division bench in appeal.

Setting aside the single judge order, the Court observed thus:

"….Judges are not and cannot be experts in all fields, and the opinion of experts cannot be supplanted by a Court overstepping its jurisdiction. It needs to be demonstrated by a candidate that the key answers are patently wrong on the face of it, and if there is any exercise conducted by the Court wherein the pros and cons of the arguments given by both sides need to be taken into consideration, that will inevitably amount to unwarranted interference on the part of the Court."

The Court added that when there are conflicting views, it is incumbent upon the Court to "bow down" to the opinion of the experts which, in the appeal, was the Expert Committee constituted by the NBE.

"It is also not for the Courts to interfere in such matters, except in absolutely rare and exceptional cases, especially in view of the fact that the instant examination pertains to the practice of medicine – a field that requires the exercise of utmost care and caution," the Court said.

The Court said that when NBE itself had facilitated a post-exam review of all the questions and found that there was no technically incorrect question, it was not open to the Single Judge to call for a short affidavit from the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (RGI) to furnish further information on the said aspect.

Noting that more than 6000 candidates had opted for the correct answer, the Court said:

"Merely because other candidates faced confusion and were not aware of the answer cannot be a ground to deem ambiguity in the same."

"Further, the key answers had been verified by experts at multiple levels, and by calling for a response from the RGI and then relying upon the same, this Court is of the opinion that the learned Single Judge has clearly exceeded its jurisdiction by interfering in the examination and awarding one mark to all candidates who had chosen the incorrect answer."

The appeal was accordingly allowed.

Title: NATIONAL BOARD OF EXAMINATION v. ASSOCIATION OF MD PHYSICIANS

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 780

Click Here To Read Order


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