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Boy wins battle for right marks

Suman Panigrahi

Cuttack, Sept. 4: Fifteen-year-old Suman Panigrahi had to move Orissa High Court only to know that he had secured 89 and not six out of 100 in the mathematics paper of this year’s high school certificate exams.

Though the Board of Secondary Education has declared Suman, son of a daily wage labourer at Madhusudanpur in Bhadrak district, passed in first division aggregating 495 out of 600 (82.5 per cent), the last date of applying for Plus Two courses was over.

The high court today treated the board’s negligence as “a fit case for compensation” and asked it to pay Rs 3 lakh to Suman on the petition, challenging his marks obtained in mathematics.

“While disposing of the petition, the single-judge bench of Justice B.N. Mohapatra directed the Board of Secondary Education, Odisha, to pay the petitioner a compensation of Rs 3 lakh,” petitioner counsel Ranjan Kumar Nayak told The Telegraph.

Though the court endorsed the petitioner’s contention that the board was “vicariously liable to pay the compensation for the negligence”, it advised the board to recover the amount from officials responsible for the negligence. The fault of the board officials had “marred” the career of the petitioner, the court observed.

When Suman’s mathematics paper was rechecked following the high court’s direction, it was found that he had scored 89. The board issued the revised mark sheet on June 19.

Subsequently, Suman filed a separate petition in the high court, demanding Rs 5 lakh compensation for the “mental agony, harassment and loss of valuable one year of his career” caused due to the board’s negligence.

Suman’s father Sarata Panigrahi, 41, said he had to sell 76 decimal of agricultural land at Madhusudanpur for Rs 2.5 lakh to pay for expenses towards the court case.

“My son wanted to take up a diploma course in a government engineering school. However, the carelessness on the part of board messed up everything. He had been under severe mental pressure, and we were scared he might take some drastic step. He lost one year even though he had secured first division in the examination,” he said.

Suman is staying at Aurobinda Chatrabas, a residential private coaching institute at Soro, and preparing for the diploma engineering entrance examination.

“As he got first division, he could have taken admission at Atal Bihari College at Basudevpur, 11km away from his house. But he wanted to study in a better college. We are thinking of enrolling him in a BTech course after he completes his Plus Two,” Sarata said.

Suman is the elder of two children. His sister studies in Class VI in a local school.