The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has sought a legal opinion on the implications of the Delhi High Court (HC) direction, which stopped it from withdrawing its moderation policy for the Class X and Class XII examinations held this year. According to sources, the Board is considering the option of filing a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court against the HC order.
HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar met CBSE chairman R K Chaturvedi, School Education Secretary Anil Swarup and Higher Education Secretary K K Sharma on Wednesday morning to discuss Tuesday’s development in court. Following this, CBSE officials, including Chaturvedi, spent most of the day with Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain to understand the implications of the court’s directive and finalise the course of action.
Board officials, however, maintained that Class XII results will be declared by the end of this month.
Meanwhile, Delhi University (DU) has written to the government seeking HRD Ministry’s intervention with regard to CBSE’s request for “appropriate weightage” to its students for admission to undergraduate programmes this year so that they do not lose out to candidates from other state boards that inflate their Class XII results.
As first reported by The Indian Express on May 17, in a bid to guard CBSE students against any disadvantage that could be caused by some of the state boards that inflate Class XII results, Chaturvedi had written to DU vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi on May 9 requesting him to tweak the university’s admission policy to introduce some concession for CBSE students this year.
In a letter written on Monday, DU Registrar is learnt to have informed the HRD Ministry that the university, as a policy, does not discriminate between different school boards and that it’s difficult for DU to accommodate CBSE’s request at such short notice.
The registrar has also requested the government’s intervention by discussing the problem of inflated Class XII results with all school Boards so that all applicants of DU are on an equal footing.
The HRD Ministry, however, has already held the meeting suggested by the DU registrar in his letter. On April 24, members of over 30 schools boards, with the exception of Kerala State Board, agreed to stop “upward revision/spiking of marks” from the current year. CBSE, too, was part of this consensus.
“Moderation, in its true sense, has not been discontinued. Even the policy of grace marks for improving pass percentage was left untouched. The school education boards had decided to stop the practice of artificially inflating results. We are now trying to understand if High Court has interpreted the ‘spiking of marks’ as moderation and asked us to continue this unfair practice. There is confusion on that front. The Board’s further course of action will depend on the legal opinion,” said a senior ministry official.
“Moderation” is a common practice adopted by school boards to “bring uniformity in the evaluation process”. In other words, marks scored by students are tweaked to align the marking standards of different examiners to maintain parity of pass percentage of candidates across years and to compensate students for difficulties experienced in solving the question in the specified time.
Over the last few years, many state education boards, and even CBSE, started artificially inflating Class XII results in the garb of moderation.
The Delhi High Court’s order has put states like Punjab, Karnataka and Rajasthan in a fix as they were among the first to honour their commitment to stop “upward revision/spiking of marks”. Their Class XII results have registered a significant drop this year.
“We continued our grace marks policy this year and awarded one per cent to help students pass. But there was no arbitrary distribution of marks to improve results,” Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) chairman Balbir Singh Dhol told The Indian Express on Wednesday. When asked what PSEB would do if CBSE is forced to continue spiking of marks by the court, he added, “We can only decide after studying the court order.”
The High Court bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Pratibha M Singh on Tuesday, while underlining that students would be put to “grave and irreparable loss” if the policy of moderation was done away with at this stage, said the “petitioners had made a prima facie case for interim relief”.
As the balance of convenience was also in the favour of students, CBSE was directed “to follow declared policy, including moderation” which was in practice when the students of the academic session 2016-2017 had filled the examination forms for senior and senior secondary exams.
The bench, however, said it was not expressing any opinion on the merits, demerits, legality, or constitutionality of the moderation policy.
“We don’t have the expertise on education policy. We are deeply concerned in the manner, especially timing (of the new policy), which can change the academic future of students,” it said.