Petition to re-evaluate Bihar Public Service Commission Common Combined Competitive Exam (Mains) answer scripts rejected

Patna High Court: The Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) conducts the CCCE to fill a number of state government positions. The notification for the 56th-59th CCE was published in September 2018; the preliminary exam was conducted in March 2015, wherein the petitioners were declared successful. The Main exam was conducted in July 2016, and the results for the same were announced in February 2018, where the petitioners did not succeed.

A number of these candidates approached the Patna HC demanding a re-evaluation of the Mains answer-scripts claiming that they had performed very well in the exam and some error or irregularity is bound to have crept into the procedure. They also contended that the BPSC did not prepare any model answers for the exam, leaving evaluation to the whims of individual examiners, doing away with uniformity.

Towards this end, the counsel for the petitioner relied upon Pramod Kumar Srivastava v. Chairman, BPSC, Patna (2004) 6 SCC 714, where the SC set aside an order by a single judge of the HC to conduct re-evaluation of a candidate’s paper because firstly, the BPSC had no provisions for re-evaluation but only scrutiny (re-check of totalling etc) and secondly because the teachers appointed for re-evaluation had not been provided model answers, which was against the norm in the BPSC. Hence the petitioner stressed on the important norm of preparing a set of model answers, which was not done in the present case, hence, the petitioner requested the Court to order re-evaluation, this request being supplemented by the decision in the cases of Rajesh Kumar v. State of Bihar,  (2013) 4 SCC 690 and Sanjay Singh v. UPPSC, (2007) 3 SCC 720.

The Attorney General appearing for the BPSC explained to the Court the various steps forming a part of the examination procedure and the many safeguards in place to make the system foolproof- like in-camera evaluation and multiple levels of tallying and re-checking, coding etc.

The AG also referred to the case of Pramod where one of the grounds for denying re-evaluation was the absence of any provision for the same in the Commission’s rules. This was done keeping in view that if the same were to be allowed, there would be a flood of re-evaluation applications, delaying the declaration of the final result. This position was supported in Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education v. Paritosh Bhupeshkumar Sheth, (1984) 4 SCC 27. It was then held in Secy., W.B. Council of Higher Secondary Education v. Ayan Das, (2007) 8 SCC 242 and more recently in Ranvijay Singh v. State of UP, (2018) 2 SCC 357 that if no statutory provisions to the effect exist, re-evaluation cannot be ordered.

In the aforementioned case of Paritosh, the SC had observed thus, “it is in the public interest that the results of public examinations when published should have some finality attached to them. If inspection, verification in the presence of the candidates and re-evaluation are to be allowed as of right, it may lead to gross and indefinite uncertainty, particularly in regard to the relative ranking, etc. of the candidates, besides leading to utter confusion on account of the enormity of the labour and time involved in the process. The Court should be extremely reluctant to substitute its own views as to what is wise, prudent and proper in relation to academic matters in preference to those formulated by professional men possessing technical expertise and rich experience of the actual day-to-day working of educational institutions and the departments controlling them.” The AG also referred to Sunil Kumar v. BPSC, (2016) 2 SCC 495  wherein it was held that the Sanjay Singh case relied on by the petitioners was restricted to its facts and circumstances and did not decide upon any question of law.

The Court held that the BPSC frames the rules for its functioning, codified in the Rules and Procedure of 1996, which nowhere provide that an examination cannot be conducted without framing model answers. The Commission has, in all other stages of the exam, complied with these rules. Since the petitioners are unable to show how the non-preparation of model answers disadvantaged them, and their writ is based solely on their belief they performed well in the exam, hence the re-evaluation cannot be directed merely due to non-preparation of model answers.

Secondly, with regard to ordering re-evaluation where a provision for the same does not exist, the Court made reference to Taniya Malik v. The Registrar General of Delhi High Court, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 226 and held, “this Court is left with no iota of doubt that in absence of provision of re-evaluation, the same cannot be resorted to since there is no provision of re-evaluation in the Rules of the Commission.” The petitions were, therefore, dismissed [Nehal Ahmed v. Bihar State Public Commission,  2018 SCC OnLine Pat 781,  decided on 9-5-2018]

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