The experts who conducted the interaction with 13 of the 14 toppers of Bihar intermediate (arts and science) did not go into the contentious issue of whether the students deserved to be at the top.
They have just reported the level of knowledge demonstrated at the interface with students, while matching their handwriting with those on the original answer-sheets.
According to one of the 11 subject experts roped in by the board, the experts simply assessed how far the toppers reflected knowledge of subjects’.
“The toppers cannot be decided through interview. It is always relative. To decide the topper afresh, one would have to go through all copies of the board afresh”, he said.
Another expert said that in the atmosphere created by media glare over the raging controversy, it was harsh on the students also, as they were visibly nervous.
“We first tried to calm them down, asking them general questions about family and school. Once they were comfortable, we initiated them into the actual interaction,” he added.
As the board’s Act does not give the mandate for re-evaluation, the marking on the copies could not be revised. Besides, the board did not get any adverse report of malpractice from any of the examination centres the toppers appeared in. The experts just matched the handwritings, which were found okay.
“The board asked us to hear the students’ side. We went there, asked a few questions and also made them write a few short answers. We have submitted our report to the board’s anti-corruption cell, but we have not written anything on students’ capability to top. It would be wrong on our part,” he added.
An expert of intermediate arts said that the four students who appeared before him did reflect knowledge of the subject.
“I asked them some questions not asked in the exam, but which were from prescribed topics in the syllabus. They seemed good enough for first division marks, but whether they could top is something I should not try to assess when there are lakhs of aspirants,” he added.
One of the experts said that the entire process of calling the students for ‘interaction’ was beyond him, as it was not the mandate of any school board in the country.
Board secretary Hariharnath Jha said the answer books were also handed over to the experts.
“During general interaction, the experts said that the students reflected knowledge. The experts were from the premiere Patna colleges. The report is with the anti-corruption cell, which we will hand over to the government,” he added.