Continue with `moderation' of marks this year: HC to CBSE

PUBLISH DATE 24th May 2017

Stressing that no one can “play with the lives and future of children“ the Delhi high court on Tuesday prohibited the Central Board of Secondary Education from scrapping its “moderation policy“ to evaluate Class 10 and 12 students this year. The results are expected in the next few days.

A bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and Justice Pratibha M Singh made it clear that “rules can't be changed after the game has begun“ and directed the board to continue with the grace marks “policy that was in vogue when the students submitted the exam forms“ to evaluate the Class 10 and 12 board exams this year.

“We are deeply concerned at the manner in which a change of policy has happened, which may completely change the academic future of students from Delhi,“ the bench noted, reminding CBSE's controller of examinations--who was present to defend the sudden reversal of policy--that many students awaiting Class 12 results have received conditional offers from prestigious universities abroad. Some may have taken loans, mortgaged property . It will be such a tragedy if their conditional offer from universities abroad gets revoked because of this change in your policy as their offer is based on a certain fixed manner of evaluation.It would cause grave and irreparable financial loss to the children,“ the bench underlined, wondering why CBSE took such a decision after exams got over.

Under the moderation policy , grace marks are given to students for difficult questions or errors in question paper. The court noted that students who took the exams “ought to have been put to notice“ as they have the “right to know“ what the CBSE was doing. “Do not instill insecurity in them. Don't do it (withdrawal of the policy) this year,“ the bench added.

Even as the court clarified that it wasn't going into the merits of the decision to do away with the moderation policy , it questioned the “timing of the decision“ to scrap it without warning, adding it “should have been done prospectively and uniformly for everyone across the country“. The HC remarks came while hearing a petition by an affected parent and a lawyer challenging the board's decision to withdraw the moderation policy.

Senior advocate Balbir Singh, appearing for the petitioners, Rakesh Kumar and advocate Ashish Verma, argued that some states have already declared the results for Class10 and12 exams without giving students benefit of moderation policy. Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, appearing for CBSE, said students didn't have a vested right to expect marks would be increased and the board decided to withdraw the policy to address the issue of “spiking of marks“. During the hea ring, the court was told by CBSE that deliberations over the withdrawal of the policy had begun on April 24 and the decision was approved on May 4 and circulated on May 10.

In response, the HC pointed out that even till May 10, the bo ard had “not seen it fit“ to inform students about the change in policy. It noted that the meeting for change in policy took place on April 24 after majority of the exams had got over and the evaluation of some subjects had already started. The court said that the petitioners have made out a prima facie case to show that “grave and irreparable loss“ would be caused if no interim protection is granted.

The CBSE is yet to decide on the future course of action after the HC order, but according to a senior HRD ministry official, there is nothing much the board can do except follow the order. The board officials said there won't be any delay in declaration of the results due to the moderation process.

Avnita Bir, principal of R N Podar School, welcomed the move and said even if corrections are over, students will benefit from the order. “The marks were being inflated and this wasn't good but the same rules have to apply to all. The teachers have corrected the papers like they would and hence, if additional marks are to be given it can be done right now as well.“

Jose Kurian, regional director (western region), DAV Public Schools, though agreed with the moderation policy , said that random changes every now and then will only add to the confusion of students. “The CBSE was giving certain comfort zones to the students and then it decided to scrap it. Students will now have to face the real demanding exam if such concessions are done away with, which is good in a way .“