It’s trial and error of a different kind. Here, students are on trial and the Higher Secondary (HS) Council is making one error after the other, prompting the court to step in to set things straight.
After yet another case where the Council had wrongly marked a candidate’s answer-script, Calcutta High Court on Wednesday sought an explanation for “the series of errors” in the HS results published in July. Justice Barin Ghosh directed the Council to file a report within a fortnight, listing the reasons for the large number of errors. He has also appended a question, to which the Council has to provide a satisfactory reply: If the examiner, head-examiner and scrutiniser had been doing their jobs sincerely, why were answer-scripts wrongly marked'
On Wednesday, after moving high court, Anwesha Mukherjee, a student of Swami Niswambalananda College, in Hooghly, was awarded 36 more marks by the Council in her Bengali second paper. She had initially been given only six for the paper. This was the sixth occasion when a ‘failed’ candidate has passed HS after court intervention. Anwesha had applied for scrutiny but her marks came back unchanged. Her tally improved only when the judge directed the Council to produce the answer-script. On Wednesday, the Council’s lawyer told the court that Anwesha had actually scored 42, but this had escaped scrutiny as only the tabulation sheets had been examined.
According to high court sources, more than 50 similar cases are still pending before three benches. A contempt petition against the Council is also pending before Justice Subhrakamal Mukherjee, to be heard on Thursday. In this petition, Subhradip Roy has drawn the court’s attention to an observation it had made two years ago, stating that the Council should be more “transparent” in the publication of results to minimise student grievances. Roy has asked the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the Council for not complying with its order. Several cases relating to irregularities in results are also pending before Justice Maharaja Sinha. Other than the Madhyamik Board and the Higher Secondary Council, there are also cases against Calcutta and other universities, on the same issue.
A spokesman for the Council said that according to a Supreme Court directive, the Council was not bound to produce answer-scripts before the court. He said that when a student applied for scrutiny, the Council would only re-check the tabulation sheet. “There is no provision to re-examine the scripts during a scrutiny,” he said.
The Council spokesman also said that this year, when the aggrieved students had demanded that they be shown the answer-scripts, they had been directed to first apply for scrutiny. “We asked them to submit authorisation letters from their respective heads of institutions, stating they had done well in the pre-tests. We are reviewing the scripts of those candidates who are submitting such letters,” he said.