"In this country, people who comply with rules are punished. And people who don't comply will always have arguments", remarked Justice Ravindra Bhat on Monday
The petitioners before the bench of Justices U. U. Lalit, Vineet Saran and Bhat were candidates in the Bihar Elementary Teachers Eligibility Test 2017 who had, despite clear instructions to the contrary, in fact used a whitener over their OMR Sheets, in attempting the questions during the examination which they undertook for the test in question. Consequently, their results were held to be invalidated even though the OMR sheets stood duly evaluated by the computer.
"The use of eraser, whitener etc has been refused because the computer might not be able to read the OMR sheets then. But in our case, the computer read it! All I am praying is for the authorities to at least declare the result!... This was only an eligibility exam...it is to be held every year but actually it is held only once in 4-5 years...I have crossed the age limit for taking it now...", urged the counsel for the petitioners.
"It is possible that even after the exam, the correct answer can be inserted by the use of these devices of eraser, whitener etc. The purpose of the rule is to ensure transparency and fairness. Once the rules have forbidden the use of these items, you are deemed to have been given adequate notice (to not use such items)", observed Justice Lalit.
"Why should you even be considered? What about those who complied with the rules and fed the incorrect answer? In this country, people comply with rules only to be punished, and those who don't comply will always have arguments...Why can't you follow the rules? And you are hoping to get into service, into a public institution?", commented Justice Bhat.
The bench proceeded to dismiss the SLP.
Bihar Elementary Teachers Eligibility Test 2017 was conducted pursuant to Advertisement No.42 dated 6th April, 2017. The communiqué issued by the Bihar School Examination Board, Patna vide Notification dated 13.07.2017 clearly stipulated two conditions; (i) in Column-4, that no candidate is authorised/permitted to use pen, eraser or whitener on the OMR Sheet; (ii) in Column-5, that if the OMR Sheets are not properly filled up, the same would be rejected by the computer resulting in invalidation of their result for which the candidate alone would be responsible.
Aggrieved thereof, writ petitions were preferred before the Patna High Court which stood adjudicated against the petitioners vide impugned judgment dated 19.07.2019. Consequently, writ appeals assailing the judgement on a limited point had been filed.
"We notice that the instructions issued in Column- 4 of the Advertisement No.63 of 2017 dated 13.07.20217 are unambiguous. No overwriting or use of whitener on the OMR Sheets is permissible. Consequences, adverse in nature, are prescribed. Only for the reason that despite the use of whitener, OMR Sheets stand evaluated by the computer, that itself would not render the clause of rejection of result to be invalidated or nugatory", the division bench of the HC had said in dismissing the appeals on September 23.