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"Rare & Exceptional Case": Orissa HC Orders 'Re-valuation' Of Two Answers Of Candidate In Direct District Judge Recruitment Exam

Jyoti Prakash Dutta
13 May 2022 5:15 AM GMT
Rare & Exceptional Case: Orissa HC Orders Re-valuation Of Two Answers Of Candidate In Direct District Judge Recruitment Exam
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The Orissa High Court has ordered 're-valuation' of two answers given by a candidate who appeared in the examination for direct recruitment in the cadre of District Judge from the Bar.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik held that the wide power under Article 226 may continue to be available even though there is no provision for revaluation in a situation where a candidate despite having given the correct answer and about which there cannot be even slightest manner of doubt, he is treated as having given the wrong answer and consequently the candidate is found disentitled to any marks

"…in exercise of the powers under Article 226 of the Constitution in a rare and exceptional case the power of the Court is not denuded from ordering re-valuation."

Factual Background:

Mr. Amitav Tripathy, the petitioner in the instant matter appeared in the examination conducted by the High Court of Orissa for direct recruitment in the cadre of District Judge from the Bar for the year 2016-17. When the results of the written examination were declared, the petitioner did not find his name in the list. Being dissatisfied with the result, he applied for xerox copies of his answer sheets under the RTI Act.

On verification of his answer sheets, he found that he secured 53 out of 100 marks in Paper-I and 43.5 out of 100 marks in Paper-II. Upon calculation of marks given in Paper-II, he found that he actually secured 45.5 marks, but his marks were mistakenly totalled 43.5. It is to be noted that the examination rules required candidates to secure at least 45% in each paper and a minimum of 50% in aggregate to qualify for the interview. Therefore, the petitioner was not selected for the interview.

On further perusal, he discovered that he was awarded only 0.5 marks out of 5 marks each in answers to questions 1 and 3 of the Group-D of Paper-II. He alleged that the same was in gross violation of the 'scheme of valuation' as he provided pin-pointed answers for which he deserved more than what was given. Hence, he challenged the same before the High Court.

On 4th May 2022, an affidavit was filed by the Examination Committee, which stated that after verification of the marks awarded by the examiner in the said answer script with the mark sheet attached, it was found that there is an error in totalling of the marks. The total marks come to 45.5 instead of 43.5 marks in paper-II of the petitioner.

As regards the evaluation of marks on questions 1 and 3 of Group-D is concerned, the Committee on going through the answers on the face of the prohibition contained in the rules found no such impropriety or irregularity in awarding of marks. Further, since the petitioner did not secure 47% of marks in Paper-II (so as to secure 50% in aggregate), the Committee opined that there arose no scope of his being called for the interview.

Observations of the Court:

On 10th May 2022, when the matter was listed, the Court asked the Additional Government Advocate appearing for the Opposite Party to show the Rule which contained the prohibition (against re-valuation) as stated by the Committee. Later, a letter was handed over to the Court stating that the Rule was in fact "law laid down by the Hon'ble Apex Court in a plethora of decisions". In other words, there is no rule as such prohibiting revaluation of the answers.

The Court noted the observations made by the Supreme Court in High Court of Tripura v. Tirtha Sarathi Mukherjee, AIR 2019 SC 3070 as regards the scope of the High Court's jurisdiction in matters of this kind. Therein, it was held,

"The question however arises whether even if there is no legal right to demand revaluation as of right could there arise circumstances which leaves the Court in any doubt at all. A grave injustice may be occasioned to a writ applicant in certain circumstances. The case may arise where even though there is no provision for revaluation it turns out that despite giving the correct answer no marks are awarded. No doubt this must be confined to a case where there is no dispute about the correctness of the answer. Further, if there is any doubt, the doubt should be resolved in favour of the examining body rather than in favour of the candidate. The wide power under Article 226 may continue to be available even though there is no provision for revaluation in a situation where a candidate despite having giving correct answer and about which there cannot be even slightest manner of doubt, he is treated as having given the wrong answer and consequently the candidate is found disentitled to any marks."

Accordingly, the High Court held that in the exercise of the powers under Article 226 of the Constitution, in a rare and exceptional case, the power of the Court is not negated from ordering re-valuation.

The Court went through the answers to the questions 1 and 3 of Group-D where the petitioner has been awarded 0.5 mark each. The maximum marks assigned to the concerned questions were 5 each. The reason given in the counter affidavit for the said marks is that "on their very face appears to be cryptic and not elaborative enough keeping in view the marks assigned to the concerned question". However, the Court observed,

"Having carefully considered the matter, the Court is of the considered view that the answers of the Petitioner to the above two questions must be asked to be revalued by a Law Expert. The Court directs the Registrar (Examinations) to send the original answer script of the Petitioner to any Law Expert, as may be chosen by the Examination Committee, in a sealed cover and only the answers to questions 1 and 3 of Group-D be asked to be revalued and the result of such revaluation be placed before this Court on the next date."

Notably, before concluding, the Bench clarified,

"The Court would like to clarify that it considers this to be a "rare and exceptional case" and further clarifies that this order should not be construed as a precedent since every case of this kind would turn on its peculiar facts and circumstances."

18th May was fixed for further hearing.

Case Title: Amitav Tripathy v. Orissa High Court, represented by the Registrar General

Case No.: W.P.(C) No. 1957 of 2018

Order Dated: 11 May 2022

Coram: Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik

Counsel for the Petitioner: Mrs. Sujata Jena, Advocate

Counsel for the Respondent: Mr. P.K. Muduli, Addl. Government Advocate

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 64

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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