Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ. allowed a set of appeals filed against the order of Madras High Court whereby it had allocated 196 grace marks to all candidates who appeared for National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-UG 2018 examination in Tamil regional language.

In NEET-UG 2018, bi-lingual questions were set in English with an option of additional regional language. The paper consisted of 180 questions; four marks were granted for each correct answer and one mark was deducted for every wrong answer. After the exam, some students filed a writ petition before the Madras High Court. The Court noticed mistranslations in the Tamil version in 49 questions. The High Court decided to give 4 grace marks for each incorrectly translated question to nearly 24,000 students who wrote the exam in Tamil. As a result, each of such students was entitled to a total of 196 grace marks. Aggrieved thereby, instant appeals were preferred by CBSE and other students.

The Supreme Court held the High Court’s order to be manifestly arbitrary, unjustified and unsustainable. The Court observed that students appearing for the NEET-UG applied for admission in MBBS/BDS courses which are taught entirely in English. The expert committee which had set the examination had given clear instructions that require the students to refer to the English version in case of ambiguity. Knowledge of the subject in English was an implied required. It was noted that there was no grievance regarding any difficulty about the questions in English. It was observed that words with imprecise meaning could have been easily discovered to be faulty and a simple reference to the English version would have clarified the same. The Court held that the students of NEET-UG 2018 were unduly benefitted only because they opted to give the exam in Tamil. In such circumstances, the order of the High Court was set aside and the appeals were allowed. Also, it was directed that from the year 2019-20 onwards, NEET-UG will be conducted by the National Testing Agency.[C.B.S.E v. T.K. Rangarajan,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2526, decided on 22-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court. In a Criminal Revision Application before it under Section 397 r/w Section 401 of Cr.P.C., where the applicant wanted to appear party-in-person and present and argue his case in Hindi before the High Court and had also brought another friend to assist in Gujarati, the High Court decided against allowing use of any language other than English to be used in the proceedings before the Court.

The High Court held that Article 348(1); and (2) of the Constitution of India r/w Rule 31A and 37 of the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993 clearly lay down that no language other than English could be used in a proceeding before it since the Language of the Court under Article 348(1); is English and Article 348(2) allows any other language to be used only if there is authorization by the Governor with previous consent of the President of India to this effect. However there is no such previous authorization of the Governor, in effect, in State of Gujarat. The High Court also held that Rule 31A of Gujarat High Court allows a party-in-person to assist the Court only if he has the ability to both understand and express in English. The Court can, in specific cases, allow written submissions to be in Gujarati as laid down in Rule 37; however, oral submissions have always to be in English only, which is the language of the Court under Article 348(1); of the Constitution.

The Court also relied on various Supreme Court judgments to drive home its point viz. Dr. Vijay Laxmi Sadho v. Jagdish (2001) 2 SCC 247, where the Governor of M.P., under Article 348(2), with the consent of the President, had authorized use of Hindi language in the court proceedings. So the language could be thus used.

However, in Madhu Limaye v. Ved Murti (1970) 3 SCC 738, when Mr. Raj Narain insisted for arguing in Hindi and the learned advocate for the other side and the members of the Bench were unable to understand his argument in Hindi, the Supreme Court provided three options and since none was acceptable to him, his intervention was cancelled.  Manish Kanaiyalal Gupta v. State of Gujarat 2015 SCC OnLine Guj 932, decided on 8.07.2015