New Delhi: The Supreme Court stayed an order of the Madras High Court awarding 196 grace marks to those NEET students who had opted to write the test in Tamil language on account of error in translation.
The move comes as a relief to thousands of students whose All India Quota counselling, as well as several state quota counselling processes, had been halted after the Madras High Court decision.
The top court said it appears that after the judgment of the Madurai bench of the high court, the students who had opted for the Tamil language are in an advantageous position over others.
A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao stayed the order and issued notice on a plea of the CBSE challenging the high court direction.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the Central Board of Secondary Education, said that the National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET) examination has been conducted pursuant to the apex court order but due to the high court order, entire counseling of students for admissions in colleges has come to a standstill.
He said that due to the high court order everything will have to be re-done and 24,000 students from Tamil Nadu will now be getting around 750 marks out of 720 marks in total.
“This petition before the high court was filed by Member of Parliament T K Rangarajan seeking full marks for the 49 questions, saying keywords in Tamil questions were wrongly translated from English and this caused confusion among the students,” he said.
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Rangarajan said the way examination is being conducted is causing disadvantage to the students.
To this, the bench said, “If 196 marks are given as per the high court order then what would happen to the meritorious students. It will be affecting other students. Moreover, it is an all India examination and students from all over the country had undertaken it.”
Luthra said that some students will be benefitted but some of them will be in the disadvantageous position.
Singh said that all those students who were allowed to take up the examination also had English as their subject and in case of error they could have answered in English.
Luthra contended that there was the time limit for the answering 180 questions plus there was negative marking which could have been detrimental to the students, who have opted Tamil language, as it is an admitted position of the CBSE that there was error in translation.
He sought to compensate students who have opted the Tamil language in the NEET-18 examination on the lines of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) where the apex court has applied a normalisation formula for compensating student who faced technical glitches during examination.
The bench, said it may not accept high court verdict but it may try to find solution by making a committee of experts in the language, so that the same situation do not arise next year.
“We cannot allow doling out marks in this fashion,” the bench said.
Singh said that after the high court verdict counseling of students have been stalled across the country and entire data has to be compiled once again.
“It appears that after the judgement of high court, those students who have opted for Tamil language have come at an advantageous position than the students who did not opted for the Tamil language. Within Tamil Nadu also there may be many students who have not opted for Tamil language,” the bench said.
The top court said that it will have to find a solution which will be for next year, not for this year and even CLAT normalization formula cannot be applied in the NEET case looking at the enormity of students taking up the examination.
The bench, posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.
The Madras High Court had on July 10 ordered the CBSE to grant 196 marks — 4 marks each for 49 erroneously translated questions — in the Tamil version of this year’s NEET to the students who took the exam in the regional language.
The high court had directed the CBSE to consequently revise the list of eligible candidates and publish it afresh.
The petitioner, senior CPI(M) leader and Rajya Sabha MP T K Rangarajan, had sought full marks for the 49 questions, saying key words in Tamil questions were wrongly translated from English and this caused confusion among the students.
There were 180 questions with a total mark of 720 in the NEET.
The high court had said that the students who took the NEET for admission to medical and dental colleges in Tamil should be suitably compensated to provide a level-playing ground.
The CBSE conducted the NEET on May 6 in 136 cities in 11 languages, the results of which were announced on June 4.