New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India today quashed the Madras High Court directive to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to grant 196 grace marks to students who suffered from the erroneous Tamil translation of 49 questions in the NEET for undergraduate medical admissions. While setting aside the the judgment of the Madurai bench Madras High Court, the apex court said the former’s method “is manifestly arbitrary and unjustified and cannot be sustained”.
A bench of justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao said, “for these reasons, we set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court of Madras dated July 10, 2018”.
In June this year, the apex court had stayed the order and issued notice on a plea of the CBSE challenging the high court direction.
The court has also directed that from the year 2019-20 onwards the NEET-UG Examination will be conducted by the National Testing Agency or NTA and the bilingual examination will be conducted after the question paper is translated.
NEET 2019 under the supervision of NTA is already underway and the registration for its next edition, which has been scheduled for May next year, is set to close by November 30, 2018.
The court while delivering its judgement noted that the list of students who opted to give the NEET-UG, 2018 Examination in Tamil after the addition of 196 marks is “startling”.
Referring to the list, the bench said that a student who got 260 marks has been awarded a total of 456 marks and a student with 137 marks becomes entitled to 333 marks and the student who got 92 marks becomes entitled to 288 marks.
“Even students who have 21 marks been entitled to 217 marks. It is clear that the High Court lost sight of the primary duty of Court in such matter that is to avoid arbitrary results,” the bench said.
The bench further said that the High Court has made no attempt to see whether the students have in fact attempted answers to the questions, which were claimed to be imperfectly translated and has proceeded to award the full marks for 49 questions to all candidates who had opted to write the examination in Tamil.
Earlier, while staying the Madras High Court’s order, the top court had said that it appears that after the judgment of the Madurai bench, the students who had opted for the Tamil language are in an advantageous position over others.
The matter pertains to a petition filed in Madras High Court where the petitioner alleged that 49 questions in the NEET question paper in Tamil had errors thus confusing students who had opted for Tamil as the medium of the examination. In response, Madras High Court had asked CBSE to award 196 marks, 4 each for the 49 erroneous questions, and release revised merit list.
The public interest litigation was filed by senior CPI-M leader T K Rangarajan sought full marks for the 49 questions, saying key words in the Tamil questions were wrongly translated from English and this caused confusion for the students. “We found both the questions as well their answers wrong,” Shaji Chellam, counsel for petitioner told NDTV, citing an instance where “Cheetah was translated as Seetha in Tamil”.
NEET or National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, the national level entrance examination for admission to undergraduate medical and dental courses, was conducted by CBSE last year.