A Supreme Court bench today, gave a split judgment in an appeal by Medical Students from Madhya Pradesh who were admitted between 2007-2012, whose PMT exams were cancelled for their alleged involvement in Exam Malpractices (VYAPAM scam). Though the bench comprising of Justices J.Chalameswar and A.M.Sapre were in agreement that the judgment appealed against need not be interfered with, they expressed different opinion on whether to give directions excercising power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India.
The Bench unanimously agreed not to interfere with the impugned judgment by observing that neither the procedure adopted by the Board nor the evidence relied upon by it for taking cancelling admission of the appellant students could be characterized as illegal. While Justice Chelameswar, proposed to issue directions under Article 142 of Constitution by permitting the students to complete their study of medicine and become trained doctors to serve the nation, Justice Sapre opined that no case is made out for passing any directions under Article 142 of the Constitution of India and hence these appeals deserve to be dismissed. In separate judgments each running over sixty pages, the Judges elaborated their reasoning.
JUSTICE CHELAMESWAR's VIEW
KNOWLEDGE ACQUIRED BY STUDENTS CAN BE UTILIZED FOR WELFARE OF SOCIETY
With regard to the plea by the appellant students that the lives of 634 youngsters would be ruined if the impugned action of the respondents remains unaltered, Justice Chelameswar observed
“Some 634 youngsters, who have already completed their training in medicine (or about to complete) and whose knowledge could have otherwise been utilized for the benefit of the society, would be simply rendered useless for the society in the sense their knowledge cannot be utilized for the welfare of the society. The question is not whether these appellants deserve any sympathy. In my view, a larger question- whether this society can afford to waste such technically trained and qualified human resources which require enormous amounts of energy, time and other material resources to generate. Obviously, it takes another five years of time and expenditure of considerable material resources to produce another set of 634 qualified medical graduates.”
THEY ARE NOT CRIMINALS SINCE THEY WERE JUVENILES
Justice Chelameswar further observed “Another important consideration in the context is that most of (if not all) the appellants, whatever be their respective role, if any, in the tampering of the examination process, must have been ‘juveniles’29 as defined under the Juvenile Justice Act. They cannot be subjected to any ‘punishment’ prescribed under the criminal law even if they are not only the beneficiaries of the tampered examination process but also the perpetrators of the various acts which constitute offences contaminating the examination process.”
BUT DISHONEST MUST COMPENSATE THE SOCITY
However Justice Chelameswar added “I would prefer to permit the appellants to complete their study of medicine and become trained doctors to serve the nation. But at the same time there is a compelling national interest that dishonest people cannot be made to believe that “time heals everything’ and the society would condone every misdeed if only they can manage to get away with their wrong doing for a considerably long period. Society must receive some compensation from the wrongdoers.“
COMPULSORY COMMUNITY SERVICE AS ALTERNATIVE PUNISHMENT
“Compensation need not be monetary and in the instant case it should not be. In my view, it would serve the larger public interests, by making the appellants serve the nation for a period of five years as and when they become qualified doctors, without any regular salary and attendant benefits of service under the State, nor any claim for absorption into the service of the State subject of course to the payment of some allowance (either in cash or kind) forCommunity service as an alternative to the traditional punishment of imprisonment for those found guilty of crime is gaining currency in some countries. It appears to me to be more useful to the society. I do not see any reason why such a concept cannot be adopted in the context of situations like the one on hand. 65 their survival. I would prefer them serving the Indian Armed Forces subject to such conditions and disciplines to which the armed forces normally subject their regular medical corps. I would prefer that the appellants be handed over the certificates of their medical degrees only after they complete the abovementioned five years. The abovementioned exercise would require the ascertainment of the views of Ministry of Defence, Government of India, and passing of further appropriate orders by this Court thereafter.”
JUSTICE SAPRE's VIEW
Referring to many precedents, Justice Sapre observed in the facts of this case as follows:
PONDER ABOUT EVOLVING A UNIFORM POLICY TO DEAL WITH EXAM MALPRACTICISES
Justice Sapre concluded his judgment as follows “it is well known that the Examination is always considered as one of the major means to assess and evaluate candidate’s skills and knowledge be it a school test, universityexamination, professional entrance examination or any other examination. Candidate’s fitness for his further assignment whether in studies or employment is, therefore, judged on the basis of his performance in the examination. It is for this reason, the examination is considered as a common tool around which the entire education system revolves. Examination malpractices, academic fraud or cheating in the examination is as old as the examination itself. Study made by the educationist has revealed that these malpractices are gradually on the rise across the world and has caused a threat to public trust in reliability and credibility to the system as a whole. These malpractices occur within and outside the examination halls and are perpetrated by the candidates, staff and other external agencies before, during and after the examination. Various kinds of strategies are innovated and then applied to enable the candidate to clear the examination anyhow. It has, therefore, destroyed the piousness of the examination. With a view to prohibit such activities, State of A.P. had enacted a legislation but it was found inadequate to control such activities. It is, therefore, the collective responsibility of the Government (Central/States), educational bodies/Institutions to ponder over and evolve a uniform policy in a comprehensive manner to firmly deal with such activities in the larger public good. It is hoped that effective remedial steps would be taken in that regard.”
Read the Judgment here.