The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition of a dyslexic CBSE student, Pranjay Jain, seeking permission to use calculator for writing his class XII examination.
"Since CBSE, an expert body, has considered and decided against use of calculator, it is not possible for us to allow your prayer," a bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and C K Prasad observed while dismissing the petition.
The bench agreed with the CBSE counsel's contention that there are about 300 students with mental deficiencies of various magnitudes and it was the petitioner alone who has approached the court.
The apex court said that if Jain's plea were conceded, it would amount to granting similar relief to all such other students.
The bench said that Jain couldn't complain of any discrimination as under the rules, such students are provided the assistance of a person in calculating during the exams.
The apex court rejected the argument of Jain's counsel that the CBSE rule denying use of calculator was violative of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution, which, he argued, prohibited treating unequals with equals.
Senior advocate J L Gupta, appearing for Jain, a resident of Panchkula in Haryana, contended that the action of CBSE in not allowing use of calculator was violative of his fundamental rights and the Board's own policy guidelines.
CBSE had earlier turned down the dyslexia-afflicted boy's plea for using a calculator and the Punjab and Haryana High Court had concurred with the Board's decision.
"The right to education has been recognised as a fundamental right under Article 21 (right to life) and 21A (right to education) of the Constitution. CBSE's rejection of the request of the petitioner is illegal, unjust, unfair and arbitrary, being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution," the petition had submitted.
It had said CBSE's action was contrary to its own circular enunciating its policy decision with regard to inclusive education of children with disabilities.
"The world over, such children are provided use of computers, word processors, voice recognition software and many electronic aids during examinations and for higher studies. Even in India, other school boards, including Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), has issued guidelines permitting use of scientific calculators by dyslexic students," the petition had said.