Re-evaluation Process in LLM Exam: HC Finds ‘Serious Inconsistencies’ in KU Process

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Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has said that any action by any authority, whosoever it may be, would be ‘non-est’ in law if it was in violation of court’s interim order on any matter.

“It is, of course, a matter of very serious nature if any authority, whosoever that may be, takes an action during the pendency of a petition, which, in any manner, has the effect of interfering with the course of justice in a cause of which the Court is seized of, moreso which goes against the letter and spirit of an interim order; and in that event, such action would be inconsequential and non-est in the eyes of law,” a single bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said while disposing of couple petitions filed by students of 3rd Semester Batch 2013 of LLM course, alleging “foul play” behind their result by the Kashmir university.

In one of the pleas, a petitioner— Tanzeela Sharif—stated that her 3rd semester examination was conducted in March last year and the varsity declared the result after nine months on 9 January this year. All the candidates are stated to have been declared failed and behind the result, she alleged, is a “backdrop story.”

The petitioner stated that she alongwith other six students applied for re-evaluation on 12 January and its result was declared after three months on 7 April with no change in the earlier result. The petitioner stated that she and other students applied for Xerox copies of the answer scripts on April 13 which were supplied to them after two days.

On perusal of the answer scripts, the students sensed what they called serious foul play behind their result as the cover page of the Xerox copy of the answer script did not contain the column or format of the 1st Re-evaluation that was printed on the front of the cover page of the University answer scripts.

“Instead, while making the Xerox copies, the cover pages of the answer scripts seemingly had been folded in a manner that this format/column of 1st Re-evaluation does not come in the Xerox copy. Not only that, lest the impression of the entries recorded in the 1st Re-evaluation column/format on the front side of the page becomes visible and is readable from the back of the page, the back of the page was photocopied after shielding the impression by putting a paper on it,” the petitioner said.

She stated that as per her as well as information of other students, they were awarded more than 20 marks in the 1st Re-evaluation by the examiner. Instead of proceeding ahead in accordance with the statutes, the petitioner alleged that the authorities “tampered re-evaluation and scribed marks on the margin over-leaf in each of these answer scripts, showing them to be awarded in 1st Re-evaluation.”

The Controller of Examinations, in his reply to the plea, stated that answer scripts were sent to Head of Department of Law for re-evaluation. Since the HoD was out of station, the parcel of answer scripts was handed over to a senior faculty member. When the answer scripts were received back, it was noticed that there were two re-evaluations, one on the front page of the answer scripts and the other on the back side of the same page, and that while as the re-evaluation on the front page showed 50 to 90% increase from the original evaluation, the re-evaluation on the back side of the first page was more or less in conformity with the original evaluation. The Examination Section took up the matter with the Head of the Department of the Law and they were informed that re-evaluation reflected on back side of the first page was the re-evaluation carried by Head of the Department

VC of the varsity, in exercise of powers vested in him, as Principal Executive and Academic Officer of the University, decided to discard the earlier re-evaluations and seek fresh re-evaluation “so that there remains no scope for either sheer populism or victimization”.

“It is now more than clear that re-evaluation undertaken by senior faculty member is simply an outlier. It is surprising to notice that while as in the evaluations undertaken by first evaluator, Head of the Department and outside evaluator all the candidates are shown as failed; in the evaluation undertaken by senior faculty member of the faculty, 5 out of 7 candidates are shown to have passed in first division. It speaks volumes about the genuineness of the evaluation undertaken by senior faculty member at his own level without taking Head of the Department into confidence,” the KU official said in reply.

After going through all the record, the court said that there are some very serious inconsistencies and contradictions in the case so built and put forth by the varsity.” The record also does not support them in such a stand. These inconsistencies and the record, plus the affidavit sworn in by the senior faculty member, taken together, lead one to the conclusions that, firstly, in fact, the answer scripts had been sent and delivered to the senior faculty member when neither the Head of the Department nor any other senior faculty member was available in the Department; secondly, he was an Examiner for the examination in question and, therefore, could not be said to be unauthorized to evaluate the same; and thirdly, the actual reason behind not relying on his evaluation was something else, which the respondents themselves in their affidavits have referred to as populism or victimization – populism by the senior faculty member and victimization by the present Head of the Department, as, according to the respondents, there is large variation between the original evaluation and the evaluation conducted by the senior faculty member.” The court said and enumerated factors relevant to it.

Ultimately, the court declared the controller examination’s action of sending the answer scripts for fresh re-evaluation to the Examiner outside the Department of Law and the re-evaluation done by such Examiner as illegal and inconsequential.

“The re-evaluation conducted by (senior faculty member) is found and held to be in order, conforming to the provisions and mandate of the relevant Statute. Consequently, the respondents are held to be bound to take it into consideration. Any note, endorsement or written text discarding the re-evaluation done by (the senior faculty member) or stating that this re-evaluation be not taken into account is declared unreasonable and inconsequential and, therefore, quashed.”

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