MAHARASHTRA STATE BOARD OF SECONDARY AND HIGHER SECONDARY EDUCATION Vs. AMIT
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: BOMBAY)
MAHARASHTRA STATE BOARD OF SECONDARY AND HIGHER SECONDARY EDUCATION
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BISHESHWAR PRASAD SINGH, J. -
(1.)SPECIAL leave granted.
(2.)THE appellant, the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary Education is a Board constituted under the Maharashtra Secondary and Higher Secondary Boards Act, 1965. In this appeal, the appellant has impugned the judgment and order of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay (Aurangabad Bench), dated 3/09/2001 in Writ Petition No. 3131 of 2001, whereby the High Court allowed the Writ Petition preferred by respondent No. 1 herein and directed the Board to declare the petitioner as having passed the examination. THE High Court took the view that under sub-clause 2(d) under Note 1 of Clause (3)(a) of Regulation 52, the respondent No. 1 was entitled to the grant of 20 grace marks with the result that the marks obtained by him in the subject Mathematics would be 39, he having secured 19 marks in the examination. Consequently, the respondent No. 1 having obtained 39 marks in the subject Mathematics with the addition of grace marks would be entitled to the further benefit under sub-clause (3) of Note 2 of Clause (3)(a) of Regulation 52, having secured more than 105 marks in the subjects Mathematics and Science taken together and therefore entitled to the benefit of combined passing in the subjects Mathematics and Science under the said provision.
We may first notice the facts which are not in dispute. Respondent No. 1, who was a student of Saraswati Bhuvan School took the Secondary School Certificate Examination conducted by the Aurangabad Divisional Board in March, 2001. On 2/06/2001 the results were declared but respondent No. 1 was declared to have failed, since he had obtained only 19 marks in the subject Mathematics as against a minimum of 52 marks which a candidate is required to obtain under the Regulation for passing in that subject. Respondent No. 1, then applied to the Board for the grant of 20 grace marks under sub-clause 2(d) under Note 1 of Clause (3)(a) of Regulation 52 on the ground that he had participated in sports at the State level. It appears that the respondent No. 1 had participated in the "Kho Kho" competition at the State level.
The application of respondent No. 1 was rejected and the decision was conveyed by the Divisional Secretary of the Aurangabad Division Board to the Head of the School stating that even with the addition of 20 grace marks, respondent No. 1 could not be declared to have passed, since he failed to secure 52 marks in the subject Mathematics, even with the addition of grace marks.
(3.)AGGRIEVED by the decision of the Board the respondent No. 1 preferred a Writ Petition before the High Court, wherein he claimed benefit under sub-clause (2)(d) under Note 1 of Clause (3)(a) of Regulation 52 as also the benefit under sub-clause (3) of Note 2 of Clause (3)(a) of the said Regulation. In substance, his case was that after adding 20 grace marks to the marks actually obtained by him in Mathematics i.e. 19, he should be deemed to have obtained 39 marks in the subject Mathematics and therefore entitled to the benefit of combined passing in the subjects Mathematics and Science, since he had secured more than 105 marks in the subjects Science and Mathematics taken together. The High Court upheld the contention of respondent No. 1 which is challenged before us by the Board.
The Board has framed Regulations, and Regulation 52 lays down the standard for passing in a subject. A close scrutiny of Regulation 52 discloses that it lays down comprehensively the rules relating to the minimum marks to be secured by a candidate for passing the examination, the grace marks which may be granted to a candidate in given circumstances, and the manner of calculation of such marks. However, before adverting to the provisions of the aforesaid Regulation, we consider it appropriate to notice the principles which the Court has to keep in mind while dealing with a case of this nature where grace marks are claimed under the relevant Regulations. It cannot be disputed that the academic standards are laid down by the appropriate authorities which postulate the minimum marks that a candidate has to secure before the candidate can be declared to have passed the examination. The award of grace marks is in the nature of a concession, and there can be no doubt that it does result in diluting academic standards. The object underlying the grant of grace marks is to remove the real hardship to a candidate who has otherwise shown good performance in the academic field but is losing one year of his scholastic career for the deficiency of a mark or so in one or two subjects, while on the basis of his overall performance in other subjects, he deserves to be declared successful. The appropriate authorities may also provide for grant of grace marks to a candidate who has taken part in sports events etc., considering the fact that such candidate who have obtained a level of proficiency in any particular game or event may have devoted considerable time in pursuit of excellence in such game or event. However, a rule for the award of grace marks must be construed strictly so as to ensure that the minimum standards are not allowed to be diluted beyond the limit specifically laid down by the appropriate authority. It is only in a case where the language of the statute is absolutely clear that the claim for the award of grace marks can be sustained. Normally the Court shall be slow to extend the concession of grace marks and grant a benefit where none is intended to be given by the appropriate authority.
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