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HC admits review plea

Students take part in a signature campaign against discrepancies in CBSE Class XII results in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Cuttack, June 21: Orissa High Court today admitted a petition from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) challenging its order for re-evaluation of answer scripts of 158 Class XII students.

The court issued the re-evaluation order on June 13.

The Vacation Bench of Justice K.R. Mohapatra on June 13 granted ordered the re-evaluation of answer scripts of 158 students "keeping in view the larger interest of the students and more particularly the direction" by another Vacation Bench in the case of 18 students on June 7.

The CBSE, represented through its regional office in Bhubaneswar, filed an appeal petition challenging the June 13 order and claimed that it relied on a notification that was no longer in force. It contended that an amendment was incorporated through a notification issued on November 29, 2016, deleting the provisions for revaluation much before the Class XII examination began. It said a separate set of modalities for the 2017 examination, implementing the amendment, were prescribed through a notification on May 29. "Hence, the order for re-evaluation was liable to be quashed," the CBSE contended.

After hearing the arguments of both the CBSE and the student petitioners, the division bench of Justice S.C. Parija and Justice Debabrata Dash posted the matter for Friday. The dispute centres around the contention of the counsels representing the students that the November 29, 2016 notification, in which the amended clause deleting provisions for re-evaluation was incorporated, cannot be relied upon as the last date for filling up of forms with fine for the 2017 examination was over by that time. They claimed that this meant the examination process had already begun. "Therefore, it is submitted that the rule of the game cannot be changed when the game is already on," the petitioners' counsels argued.

The CBSE had filed a review petition urging the high court to re-examine its June 7 order for "re-evaluation" of answer scripts of 18 Class XII students. Its review petition against the June 7 order and the appeal petition against the June 13 order had identical contentions.

After a preliminary hearing, the Vacation Court admitted the CBSE's review petition on June 13.

"Taking into consideration the rival contentions of the parties and the case law cited, this court is of the considered opinion that the matter requires consideration," Justice Mohapatra observed in his June 13 order.

The review petition will be heard on Friday by the same Single-Judge Bench of Justice Biswanath Rath, who had passed the June 7 order. In a related development, the CBSE, in pursuance of a court order, submitted a trunk full of records related to re-evaluation of answer scripts of 18 students along with the original scripts.

The CBSE told the court that re-evaluation had resulted in the increase in marks of three students and decrease in case of 15 others. Justice Biswanath Rath took judicial note of the CBSE's declaration. In the case of petitions of 10 students that came up today, Justice Rath directed the CBSE to provide the petitioners photocopies of their answer scripts if they had applied for it by June 14, but deferred their pleas for a re-evaluation for consideration at a later stage.


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