The Supreme Court bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta on Wednesday reserved its judgment on the appeals challenging the Allahabad High Court judgment dated November 2, 2015, upholding the correctness of 5 out of the 7 allegedly inaccurate multiple choice questions in the examination conducted by UP Secondary Education Selection Board in pursuance of a January 2009, advertisement inviting applications for appointment to 604 posts of trained graduate teachers in the subject of Social Science.
After the result of the written examination was declared in June, 2010, an interview was held and a merit list was then prepared. Subsequently, writ petitions were filed before the Allahabad High Court, raising objections with regard to 7 questions in the written examination paper. Consequently, a fresh evaluation of answer sheets was done on the basis that 7 questions were incorrect or the answers prescribed thereto under the key of the Board were incorrect. This was on the basis of the decision dated February 8, 2012, of a single judge of the high court. Subsequent thereto, a second round of evaluation and interview was conducted of additional persons who were declared successful. In the second round of evaluation, again a merit list was prepared. Thereafter, pursuant to the judgment and order dated November 2, 2015, passed by the division bench of the high court in review, a view was taken on the basis of the report given by a Professor of Allahabad University to the effect that only two questions were incorrect. As a result of this, a third evaluation process is now underway. Almost two years have gone by, but the third round of evaluation does not appear to have been completed.
On Tuesday, on behalf of the three candidates named in the original merit list, it was submitted, “Where merit is the criterion for obtaining the job, every mark counts. If even one of my answers is correct and the reply as per the answer key is wrong, then I am entitled to 3.4 more marks. Here, the accuracy of 7 questions is under challenge. 23.8 marks are at stake.” Justice Gupta restrained the counsel from arguing on the correctness of all of the 7 impugned questions, saying, “7 are not wrong. You are not challenging the division bench order. You may only argue that 4 are wrong.”
Thereafter, Justice Gupta proceeded to discuss the veracity of the 4 questions and the responses thereto as per the answer key prepared by the Board. “We agree that the questions involving dates are demonstratively wrong. If the date is incorrect, it is incorrect. There cannot be two dates for the same event. So we accept your arguments in respect of those questions,” the bench noted. “As for Question 24 of History subject paper, when it is asked of what place Chand Bibi, daughter of Hussain Nizam Shah I of the Deccan Kingdom, was the queen, the term ‘queen’ would ordinarily be understood to mean ‘wife of the king’ of such place. So could the question be inquiring about the territory Chand Bibi ruled over,” the bench observed. Further, the apex court remarked, “Question 36 of History subject paper is framed in a very vague manner in so far is it quotes the words of ‘one’ foreign visitor to India in respect of a monument. A simple Google search shows that several foreign travellers have said exactly the same things about different monuments. The question should have clearly mentioned that the words cited therein were of Italian traveller Niccolao Manucci with regard to the monument which was sought in the answer.”
Lastly, the advocate drew the attention of the top court to the impugned Question no. 32 of Civics subject paper, asking “which of the following constitutional offices do not require the initiation of a formal impeachment procedure for removal of the incumbent in office”, indicating the ambiguity in so far as the term ‘impeachment’ is not expressly used in the Constitution in connection with the removal of a Supreme Court judge as well as the Vice-President of India.
Finally, the advocate prayed before the apex court, “If the views of the experts from the Allahabad University whose services were procured by the High Court are found to be erroneous in respect of the 4 questions, then the top court should devise such a new method that the meritorious candidates are given priority in the appointments.”
The bench reserved judgment in the matter on Wednesday.