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Exam order triggers unrest at HC

One of the damaged cars outside the high court premises. Picture by Anup Bhattacharya

A group of students and guardians on Friday tried to barge into the courtroom of a high court judge on Friday after he rejected their plea for permission to write Madhyamik despite not having registered with the secondary education board.

The group later ransacked four cars belonging to lawyers, during which some protesters were heard shouting: “We want to see the judge. We will teach him a lesson.”

Justice Debasish Kargupta declined to grant the prayers of the 410 students of Kankinara Adarsha High School in North 24-Parganas as they are not registered with the board and have not been issued admit cards for the exams that start on Monday.

A court source said around 25 petitioners were in courtroom 19 during the proceedings and the rest were in the adjoining corridor. As soon as word was out that the petition had been rejected, the group outside became restive and tried to barge into the courtroom.

“The police chased them away but they regrouped in front of the main gate of the old high court building and turned their ire on lawyers’ cars parked there,” said a witness.

Lawyers expressed outrage at the incident and the failure of the police to maintain order at the seat of justice where violent protests against judicial pronouncements are unheard of.

“It’s a matter of shame that the police failed to maintain law and order at the court. The cops on duty remained mum when a group of rowdies ransacked vehicles,” said advocate Uttam Majumdar.

Board administrator Kalyanmoy Ganguly welcomed the order, saying: “If the candidate is not a bona fide student, there is no way we can issue him or her an admit card.”

During the hearing, the board’s lawyer Subir Sanyal submitted that of the 883 students the North 24-Parganas school was trying to send for writing Madhyamik, only 470 are registered with the board. “The rest don’t have any registration. How can they be allowed to write the exams?” Sanyal wondered.

The petitioners’ lawyer, Lakshmi Gupta, submitted that a division bench of the court had allowed three of the unregistered 413 students to write the exams.

The board’s lawyer submitted that the three had at least filled in examination forms after the screening test. While the board issues admit cards based on the filled-in forms, registration is done when the students are in Class IX. “The other 410 students did not even fill in the forms,” said Sanyal.

Government pleader Ashok Banerjee supported the board lawyer’s submission.

After hearing all sides, Justice Kargupta said: “If the students are not registered and they have not even filled in the forms, how can I allow them to write the examination?”

The board’s lawyer then submitted that the school had only 11 teachers and had the sanction of only 470 students in Class X. “The rest are outsiders,” Sanyal submitted.

“How can only 11 teachers teach so many students?” the judge, too, expressed surprise.

Sanyal said the board had a month ago sent inspectors to the school and they reported that there were 470 valid students. “There is an order passed by the higher bench that students without registration cannot claim admit cards,” Justice Kargupta observed before rejecting the petition.