Paper-setter can’t distance self from wrong answer key: HC

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that the original paper-setter could not be dissociated in case of a wrong answer key. They were duty-bound to respond to objections and their response was required to be forwarded to the independent experts.

Justice Ajay Tewari ruled the role of experts, who originally set the paper, was an important aspect required to be considered. “The original paper-setter cannot be completely dissociated from any process by which his questions/ answers are being evaluated and has a duty as well as a right to respond to the objections and that response must also be forwarded to the independent experts.”

The ruling came on a petition by Ramandeep Kaur against the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). She was seeking directions for declaring Joint CSIR-Net December, 2016, examination result by treating answers to two questions as correct. Directions were also sought against taking into consideration subsequent change in the answer key.

The Bench was told that the petitioner applied for junior research fellowship and eligibility for lectureship examination in physical sciences conducted by the CSIR in December 2016.

She obtained 33.50 per cent, which was below 37.88 per cent cut-off fixed for JRF unreserved category and 34.09 per cent cut-off for lecturer in unreserved category. After the examination, the CSIR uploaded the answer key prescribed by the paper-setter. As per it, the options marked by the petitioner were correct.

The objections, received after the respondent invited the same as per the practice, were referred to a different set of experts. They declared that the options originally prescribed as correct were, in fact, wrong. The recommendations were accepted before the revised result was issued. As a consequence, her total was reduced by 10.825 marks.
Justice Tewari said the mistake in question-answers would obviously not be there in an ideal system and candidates would not feel cheated or prejudiced. “The fact, however, is that these mistakes are not going away”.

Justice Tewari directed the respondent to send emails to all examines inviting cross-objections after informing them that objections accepted by the experts would be put up on the website.

The original paper-setters would respond to the objections before entire material was referred to independent experts for opinion on correctness of questions/ answers and remedial measures before publishing revised result.


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