The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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HS chief at exit door

One gone, the other going. Higher Secondary (HS) Council president Jyotirmoy Mukherjee looks set to follow Haraprasad Samaddar, who resigned as head of the Madhyamik Board in the wake of the marksheet scandal that has rocked the two school-leaving examinations.

On Thursday, education department officials hinted that the Council, under pressure from the government, has launched a hunt for Mukherjee’s successor. Sources said the decision to go public with the “classified knowledge” that the Council had awarded grace marks to examinees in order to raise the pass percentage in HS 2002 will cost Mukherjee his job.

In response to a directive from Calcutta High Court, while hearing a petition from an aggrieved student of Sree Shikshayatan, the Council admitted that “14 grace marks” had been awarded to all examinees who scored below 784 marks.

Going by signs emanating from CPM circles, Mukherjee’s exit will be made to look “honourable”, citing the fact that his son will be appearing for HS 2003. According to government rules, senior officials involved in overseeing confidential exam-related matters must “take themselves away” from the exam procedure in question if their children or any other close relatives are appearing for it.

The rules, however, do not call for permanent removal of any official on this ground. Anil Basak, a former president of the Council, had stayed away from all exam-related work in 1990 when his son was a candidate. Basak did not have to quit his post.

“Yes, my son is an examinee for next year’s HS examinations. I may quit soon if I find that the rules do not permit me to retain the post,” Mukherjee said, while regretting the embarrassment caused by the disclosure of the Council’s confidential decision on awarding grace marks to give the pass percentage this year a healthier look.

Mukherjee said he was busy managing the “complications” that have arisen out of the large number of court cases filed by aggrieved examinees this year. “I will soon start going through the rules and act accordingly,” he added, when asked whether he was stepping down.

The feeling in the CPM circles is that coming in the wake of the marks scandal and the subsequent review-and-revision under court orders, the recent disclosure of the Council’s decision to grant grace marks had showed up the education department and its HS wing in “very poor light”.

As a senior CPM leader, who is also a teacher, put it: “The image of the Council and the government has been tarnished…. Besides, the disclosure can make things difficult for students awarded the grace marks.”

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