Observing that students with learning disability deserve sympathy and grace from authorities in their performance, the Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education to pass a girl who was detained in SSC for her failure to obtain minimum marks in an optional subject.
Bhamisha Singh, who appeared for SSC examination in March 2016, passed in all the subjects but was detained as she failed to obtain minimum passing marks in Information and Communication Technology, having secured 17 out of 50 marks. The Board refused to consider her plea to pass her, saying that it did not have powers to extend this facility in SSC exam.
However, the court asked the Board to pass her in view of the State’s policy which is to extend help to students with special needs or learning disability. “Having perused even the reply of the Board, we are of the opinion that in the facts and circumstances and which are peculiar to this case, the Board could have condoned the failure of the petitioner in the optional subject,” said a Bench headed by Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, in a recent order.
“The petitioner’s performance in other subjects and which are compulsory cannot be said to be poor or below standards given her learning disability. She has performed satisfactorily in the other papers,” the Judges observed. “True it is that this is a Board examination and which is for all students across the State. The (government) scheme cannot be extended and does not necessarily have the application to such examinations as are conducted by the Board,” the Bench said.
“However, the Board could not have overlooked the underlying policy of encouraging such students and which is now a part and parcel of the Government Resolution dated January 8, 2016, of Department of School Education and Sports.”
“Such students are now part and parcel of the broader concept devised by the State. They (such students) are now known as “Divyang” (disabled) and have some special requirements. The scheme under the Government Resolution is extended to such students from standards 1 to 12,” the Bench observed.
In one of the answers in ICT paper, the petitioner had written in the answer only the word ‘blog’ instead of ‘personal blog’ which was the right answer, the Bench observed. “It is common ground that the petitioner is a special student in the sense that she has a learning disability. In case of such students, the respondents are expected to be a little sympathetic and graceful,” the Judges said.
“In order to encourage them so long as performance of such students achieves minimum or near minimum standards, the expectation of the petitioner is that with some additional or grace marks she could have been declared as successful. More so, when the subject concerned is not compulsory but an optional subject,” the Bench observed.
“It is in these circumstances and bearing in mind that petitioner’s answers (in Information and Communication Technology subject) cannot be said to be totally erroneous but is much nearer the correct answer that purely as a special case and without this order being treated as precedent that we grant the request of the petitioner,” the Bench said.
“The communication (of the SSC Board) impugned to the extent in this writ petition and declaring the petitioner as failed in the examination on account of her non-clearance of ICT paper is quashed and set aside,” the Judges observed. The HC directed the respondents to consider the case of the petitioner and award her minimum passing marks in the subject so as to enable the student to clear the SSC Board examination at her appearance in the March 2016 examination, namely in 2015-2016 academic year.