At least 132 candidates have committed suicide since 2000, either during the Madhyamik or the Higher Secondary (HS) examinations or after the publication of results.
Voicing the concern of hundreds of parents, the mother of a HS candidate who appeared for the examination five years ago, has moved a petition in Calcutta High Court, seeking greater transparency in the process in which the Madhyamik and Higher Secondary (HS) examinations are conducted.
The basis of the petition, filed in Chief Justice A.K. Mathur’s court by Dipti Mitra, a housewife of Jonai Road in Hooghly, is the high rate of suicides by candidates appearing in these examinations, both while they are going on and after the declaration of results. The petition seeks that the court direct the HS Council and the Board of Secondary Education to take remedial measures that would check this trend.
The petition alleges that there are flaws in the method in which the examinations are held and in the publication of results. This is resulting in a feeling of helplessness among students, leading to some of them taking their lives.
The petition suggests that the council and the board adopt the methods being followed by the authorities conducting the ICSE, ISC and CBSE examinations, as the candidates taking those examinations “do not feel so insecure”.
The petition alleges that both the council and the board had ignored an earlier high court order issued by a division bench presided over by Chief Justice Mathur, which had asked them to take steps for more transparency in the way in which the examinations were conducted.
Pointing out that her son was a victim of such deficiencies, the petitioner says: “My son Nilay had appeared in the HS examination five years ago. He was shocked on seeing that he had obtained much less than his expectations in several subjects. He applied for post-publication scrutiny of some answerscripts. As much as 256 marks were increased in the process and he got admission to an engineering course as a result.”
“My son was fortunate. But what about candidates whose careers are suffering because of the flaws in the procedure'” she asks.
The petition also refers to the controversy over the recent alleged leakage of question papers in the Madhyamik examination: “The entire system will have to change. There is not a single instance of grievance of any candidate appearing in the ICSE and CBSE examinations conducted by the Delhi boards.”
Supradip Roy, counsel for the petitioner, said the matter would come up for hearing before the division bench of the chief justice soon. “In 2000, at least 253 candidates had filed a petition before the high court seeking an order directing the council and the board to issue photocopies of the answerscripts with the marksheet of the Madhyamik and HS examinations,” the lawyer said.
Roy said the division bench had then directed the board and the council to implement a new system so that the candidates could regain faith in the examination procedure. “When I asked the board and the council what steps they had taken to bring more transparency in the publication of results, they said the order of the court was a mere observation and not mandatory.”
West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education secretary Dibyendu Chakraborty said the earlier order could not be implemented due to procedural problems.