The Supreme Court on Friday found faults in IIT’s decision to award 18 bonus marks to students for wrong and vague questions in the Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced) 2017 paper and stayed the ongoing counselling and admission in IITs, NITs, IIITs and all government-funded engineering colleges.
The apex court’s decision comes at a time when 33,000 candidates have already taken admissions in various IITs across the country.
As the next counselling session is to start from Monday, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar restrained all engineering colleges from inducting students till the controversy over the bonus marks was adjudicated by it.
The bench is examining IIT’s decision to award 18 bonus marks to all the candidates (11 marks for incorrect questions in Paper II and 7 marks for incorrect questions in Paper I) irrespective of whether they attempted the said questions or not.
Questioning the validity of the decision, the bench said that the apex court had in 2005 held that bonus marks for wrong questions could be given to only those students who attempted the question.
The bench had agreed to examine plea of two students who challenged IIT’s decision. The bench also restrained high court from entertaining any petition on the issue and posted the case to July 10 to pass order after examining all options to solve the problem.
“It is a problem and it has to be solved at the earliest … We will think about the solution but don’t create further confusion by giving admission,” the bench said.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for IIT, ruled out re-evaluation of answer papers saying it was not possible as 2.5 lakh students had taken the examination.
He said that two wrong questions were there in only one out of ten sets of question papers which was in Hindi Medium and it was impossible to find out students who opted to take entrance examination in Hindi. He said that there was only two practical options available — either to continue with the bonus marks or to strike out the wrong questions.
“We do not know who took test in Hindi. It is very difficult to find out and that is why it was decided that bonus marks be given to all students. Till date, more than 33,000 have already taken admission and whole process would have to be started afresh if merit list is revised,” Venugopal said.
“It is respectfully submitted that the relief is entirely against equity since the process of seat allocation is going on and around 33,000 candidates have already accepted the allotted seat and reported for physical verification of the documents . It is submitted that in case ongoing counselling and admission process is disturbed, the admission procedure of more than 36,000 students in 97 institutes under the joint seat allocation programme for IITs, NIITs, IIITs and GFTIs (Government Funded Technical Institutions) would be scrapped,” IIT said in its affidavit.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh and lawyer D K Devesh, appearing for the students, said that IIT’s decision to award bonus marks to all the candidates was arbitrary and illegal. They added that even though the petitioners qualified the exam, their ranking in the merit list was affected due to bonus marks. The students said that their overall rank had gone down by several notches due to the controversial decision and pleaded the court to strike down the decision.