Keep ‘moderation’ this year: HC to CBSE

Results are expected in a few days.Discarding the policy of grace marks will affect students, the HC said

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NEW DELHI: Stressing that no one can “play with the lives and future of children”, the Delhi high court on Tuesday prohibited CBSE from scrapping its “moderation policy” to evaluate Class 10 and 12 board students this year. The exam results are expected in the next few days.

A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Pratibha M Singh made it clear to the board that “rules can’t be changed after the game has begun” and directed it to continue with the grace marks or moderation “policy that was in vogue when the students submitted the examination forms”.

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 in court defending 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 because 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 examinations got over.

Under the moderation policy, grace marks are given to the students in exams for difficult questions or errors in the 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.

“These children, who have worked so hard and have burnt the midnight oil, are entitled to some stability and the only stability they know is the system. 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’s 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 exam results for Class 10 and 12 without giving the students benefit of the moderation policy , while Delhi results are expected at any time.Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, appearing for CBSE, maintained that 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 hearing, the court was told by the 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 by May 10, the board had “not seen it fit” to inform the 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.

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