Decided on December 05,2008



Satish K. Agnihotri, J. - (1.)THE petitioner-school seeks a writ of certiorari to set aside/quash the order dated 11.07.2008 (Annexure P/1) whereby the Higher Secondary School Certificate Examination, 2008 was cancelled. Consequently, the result thereof were withheld, and the order dated 11.07.2008 (Annexure P/2), whereby the High Court Certificate Examination, 2008 was also cancelled, on account of mass copying.
(2.)THE indisputable facts, in brief, as projected by the petitioner are that the petitioner-school is run by Shri Mahamaya Shikshan Samiti, Katgi, Raipur, a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1973. THE High School Certificate Examination of the students studying in the petitioner-school was held on 01.03.2008 to 24.03.2008, and for students of Higher Secondary School i.e., Class XIIth, the examination was held on 29.02.2002 to 25.03.2008. THE Government High School Nagda was the examination centre for the students of class Xth and XIIth. Thus, the petitioner-school has no responsibility to conduct the examination. In the inspection notes submitted by various inspection teams (Annexure P/8), it was found that there was no mass copying and the examinations were conducted in a satisfactory manner. THE results of class Xth and XIIth were declared in the last week of May, 2008. But the results of the students studying in the petitioner-school were withheld by impugned memos dated 11.07.2008 (Annexure P/1 and P/2). It was held that pursuant to the decision of the Examination and the Results Committee, held on 25.06.2008, mass copying was reported and found, therefore, the results were withheld. Shri Manish Sharma, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner would submit that without there being any investigation report to the effect that there was mass copying or irregularity in the conduct of examinations, the respondent authorities, i.e., the respondent No. 2 and 3 have taken decision to cancel the examination of High School and Higher Secondary Certification Examination, 2008, without any basis. Even otherwise, the result of the similarly situated candidates appearing in the High School and Higher Secondary School Certificate examination were published in May, 2008. THE decision of the Examination and the Results Committee was taken subsequently on 25.06.2008. It appears that without any finding or decision, the results of the students studying in the petitioner-school were withheld arbitrarily. Even if there was a mass copying, opportunity of hearing ought to have been provided to the candidates as well as to the petitioner-school, who have been prejudiced by cancellation of the entire examination. Shri Sharma further submits that the documents filed along with the application for taking documents on record indicate that there was copying in cases of some students only, but there was no mass copying. Thus, the petitioner seeks a writ in the nature of certiorari, as aforestated. Per contra, Shri R.S. Patel, learned counsel appearing for the respondent No. 2 and 3/Board, would submit that a complaint was made on 05.03.2008 (Annexure R/1) to the respondents alleging that there was mass cheating/copying in the examination centre. THE respondent No. 2 and 3 have, thereafter, conducted a detailed enquiry and on finding that there was mass copying, the Examination and the Results committee decided to cancel the above-stated examinations in its meeting held on 25.06.2008 (Annexure R/2). THE respondent No. 2 and 3 have filed some more documents (Annexure D/1 to D/12), including that the answer sheets were common, even the same was done in the same hand-writing. In some of the answer sheets, answers were given in such a manner as to indicate that facilities were provided by the examination centre itself to have mass copying. Thus, the decision of the respondent No. 2 and 3 is just and proper. Having heard rival contentions of the parties, perused the pleadings and documents appended thereto, it appears that mass copying has been found in most of the subjects. On perusal of the documents (Annexure D/1 to D/12) wherein reports have been submitted subject-wise, there is no doubt that the allegation of finding of mass copying by the respondent No. 2 and 3 is based on sufficient materials. THE contention that the same is based on conjectures and guess-work, to harm the interest of the petitioner-school, is not tenable. It cannot be said that the respondent No. 2 and 3 have acted in an arbitrary and whimsical manner. Contention of learned counsel for the petitioner that the entire exercise and consequently the orders dated 11.07.2008 (Annexure P/1 and P/2) deserves to be quashed as the basic principle of natural justice i.e., audi alteram partem has not been followed. Neither the examination centre, school nor the students have been afforded an opportunity of hearing before the impugned adverse orders were passed, is not tenable in the facts of the instant case. In case of mass copying, principle of natural justice need not be strictly complied with. THE Hon'ble Supreme Court in the matter of Madhyamic Shiksha Mandal, M.P. Vs. Abhilash Shiksha Prasar Samiti and others, : (1998) 9 SCC 236 observed as under:
We feel a little distressed that in matter like this the High Court should have interfered with the decision taken by the Board. THE contention was that the examination was cancelled on the report of a Naib Teshildar dated 18.03.1996 who was not authorized by the Board to visit the examination centre. It is irrelevant whether the Naib Tehsildar was authorized by the Board to visit the centre or not but what is of importance is the fact that he did visit the centre and found the students copying even before the question papers were distributed. This clearly implies that the students were aware of the questions indicative of the leakage of the question paper. THE Naib Teshildar even complained that the teachers did not object to the students entering the examination hall with books and copying material. That would mean that either they were hand in glove with the students, or they were, for some reason not able to stop the students from copying. This is also evident from the report of the Suprerintendent of Centre. THE Naib Tehsildar states that neither the Superintendent of the Centre nor the invigilators were prepared to interefer and were not able to explain how the students could enter the hall with books etc., and copy there from with impunity. THE Superintendent of the Centre states that he had requested the Naib Tehsildar to stay for three hours but the Naib Tehsildar did not stay. THE report of the valuers at p. 81 also goes to show that there was mass copying. THE High Court brushed it aside as subsequent material. But it support the Board's decision and it was improper in a sensitive matter like this to ignore it on such a technical ground. In the face of this material, we do not see any justification in the High Court having interfered with the decision taken by the Board to treat the examination as cancelled. It is unfortunate that the student community resort to such methods to succeed in examination and then some of them come forward to contend that innocent students become victims of such misbehavior of their companions. That cannot be helped. In such a situation the Board is left with no alternative but to cancel the examination. It is extremely difficult for the Board to identify the innocent students from those indulging in malpractices. One may feel sorry for the innocent students but one has to appreciate the situation in which the Board was placed and the alternatives that were available to it so far as this examination was concerned. It had no alternative but to cancel the results and we think, in the circumstances, they were justified in doing so. This should serve as a lesson to the students that such malpractices will not help them succeed in the examination and they may have to go through the drill once again. W also think that those in charge of the examinations should also take action against their Suprevisors/ Inviglators etc., who either permit such activity or become silent spectators thereto. If they feel insecure because of the strong-arm tactics of those who indulge in malpractices, the remedy is to secure the services of the Uniformed Personnel, if need be and ensure that students do not indulge in such malpractices. THE ratio laid down in the matter of Madhyamic Shiksha Mandal (supra) was reiterated in the matter of Ram Preeti Yadav Vs. U.P. Board of High School and Intermediate Education and others, : (2003) 8 SCC 311 wherein it was further observed that in case of mass-copying, principles of natural justice need not be strictly complied with.

Applying the well settled ratio laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court to the facts of the case, it not necessary to issue a show-cause-notice and afford an opportunity of hearing to each and every student and the school, where the students were studying. The respondent No. 2 and 3 Board, have conducted a detailed enquiry and on the basis of reports submitted on each subject, the decision of the respondent No. 2 and 3 cannot be faulted with. Thus, this petition is dismissed. However, in the facts and circumstances of the case, it is desirable that the respondent-Board shall conduct re-examination as early as possible to save time of the students. No order as to costs.


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