The Supreme Court on Friday disapproved the practice of the high courts calling for answer sheets and then ordering re-evaluation in the absence of any specific provision in the relevant rules while exercising powers under Article 226 of the Constitution.
Article 226 of the Constitution of India deals with power of high courts to issue certain writs.
The apex court quashed the October 2019 judgement of a division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court which had confirmed the order passed by a single judge ordering re-evaluation of the answer scripts of some original writ petitioners who had appeared in post-graduation in diploma course in a university.
A bench of justices M R Shah and M M Sundresh noted that the question posed for consideration before it is whether in the absence of any provision for re-evaluation, the high court was justified in ordering re-evaluation after calling for record of the answer scripts.
Referring to some previous judgements of the top court, the bench said applying the law laid down by the apex court in these decisions to the facts and circumstances of the case on hand, "we are of the opinion that the high court was not at all justified in calling the record of the answer scripts and then to satisfy whether there was a need for re-evaluation or not."
It said as reported, the high courts are calling for the answer sheets for satisfying whether there is a need for re-evaluation or not and thereafter orders re-evaluation, which is wholly impermissible.
"Such a practice of calling for answer scripts/answer sheets and thereafter to order re-evaluation and that too in absence of any specific provision in the relevant rules for re-evaluation and that too while exercising powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is disapproved," the bench said in its judgement.
The top court delivered its verdict on the appeals filed by the university against the high court judgement.
It noted that the original writ petitioners had appeared in the post-graduation medical diploma course conducted by the university and there was a digital evaluation of the answer scripts.
The bench said in the first round of litigation, certain directions were issued by the single judge about how to evaluate the answer scripts.
Later, some petitions were filed before the high court seeking re-evaluation of answer scripts, which were evaluated digitally and the single judge, after perusing the record, was of the opinion that evaluation of the answer scripts was not in line with the directions issued earlier.
The apex court noted that the single judge had ordered re-evaluation of answer scripts afresh as per the prevalent MCI norms by identifying four fresh examiners.
When the matter came up before a division bench of the high court, it was specifically contended on behalf of the university that as there was no provision for re-evaluation, the single judge was not justified in ordering re-evaluation.
The apex court observed in its verdict that in view of the April 2021 order passed by the top court, the results declared on the basis of re-evaluation pursuant to the order passed by the high court, shall not be disturbed in any manner.
It noted that not only the results on re-evaluation have been declared, even the respective original petitioners were declared passed on re-evaluation are also issued respective degrees in their favours in PG Degree/Diploma course.
The bench said the university has adopted the digital evaluation, which has been subsequently modified or improved and the deficiencies have been removed, which has now been approved by the high court in a recent decision.
"The digital evaluation process is reported to be scrupulously followed by the university. From the affidavit filed on behalf of the university on use of digital evaluation, it appears that all precautions are being taken to have the accurate evaluation digitally," it said.
The apex court said in the absence of any regulation for re-evaluation of the answer scripts, either in the MCI rules or in the university rules, the high court was "not justified" in ordering re-evaluation.
"In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the common judgment and order passed by the single judge ordering re-evaluation of the answer scripts, confirmed by the division bench by the impugned common judgment and order, is unsustainable," it said, while allowing the appeals.
The bench said as the results of the original writ petitioners after re-evaluation or appearing in the supplementary examination have been declared, the same shall not be affected or disturbed.