No unjust riches: CBSE objects to demand for exam fee refund

The CBSE and the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) unanimously objected to a petition by Association of Private Schools of Uttar Pradesh which sought refund of exam fees besides raising other issues.
New Delhi, India - August 03, 2021: Students of Class 10th celebrate after CBSE class 10 results were announced, at St Thomas School, Mandir Marg in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, August 03, 2021. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times)
New Delhi, India - August 03, 2021: Students of Class 10th celebrate after CBSE class 10 results were announced, at St Thomas School, Mandir Marg in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, August 03, 2021. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times)
Published on Aug 06, 2021 12:06 AM IST
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ByAbraham Thomas, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Friday told the Supreme Court that it will not charge any extra fees from students choosing to take improvement examination, but the board rejected suggestions that it should return the board exam fees since the tests were not conducted this year.

The CBSE and the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) unanimously objected to a petition by Association of Private Schools of Uttar Pradesh which sought refund of exam fees besides raising other issues. The two boards said they were “self-financing” bodies receiving no grant from the government. In separate affidavits filed before the court, the boards said examination fees of 1,500 per student is the only means to pay their staff and finance the expenses for the examinations.

The petitioner association argued that when examinations stood cancelled, there was no question of collecting examination fee. Advocate Ravi Prakash Gupta representing the association said, “As per our estimates, the CBSE has saved 200 crore by not holding physical examination. This money can be either refunded or be used to finance mobile phones for poor students.”

A bench of justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna said, “We don’t need your suggestions. Tell us if you have a legal right to get refund.” The judges agreed with the boards that the decision to cancel examinations was taken at the last minute by when all preparations for examinations (question papers, answer books) got over.

In an affidavit, CBSE Controller of Examinations, Sanyam Bhardwaj said, “The respondent CBSE has not unjustly enriched itself by collecting examination fees which has and is being utilised by it for the purpose of conducting examination and also for the purpose of rendering various services (mark sheet, pass certificate) to students.”

The results committee – comprising five members (for Class 12) and seven members (for Class 10) – set up this year for tabulating marks through internal assessment , required CBSE to spend around 40 crore for paying honorarium to the committee members, CBSE informed the Court.

CBSE had enrolled nearly 1.45 million students for Class 12 this year as compared to CISCE with over 100,000 students. After the government decided to cancel the examinations this year, the board came out with an evaluation scheme by which Class 12 students were to be assessed based on a 30:30:40 formula, which took the best of three subject marks of Class 10 boards (30%), annual results of Class 11 (30%) and pre-boards or internal assessment conducted during Class 12 (40%).

The court was informed by CBSE that all schools affiliated with it will publish detailed results of the Class 12 and 10 students, comprising of their internal assessment marks, highest average of the school in the preceding three years, and the final allocation of marks by the Results Committee, in order to enable students to decide on giving the improvement exams, to be held between August 25 and September 15.

The CBSE told the court that it soon will send a circular in this regard to schools. The board also informed the court that the results of the improvement examination will be declared by September 30, while the CISCE plans to release the same tentatively around September 20.

The petitioner had sought specific dates on holding of the improvement examination and declaration of results.

The association told the court that most students who performed well in their internal exams were surprised to find their final scores to be less. According to petitioners, this was due to the rationalisation policy prescribed by CBSE which required the results committee to moderate marks in terms of the school’s best performance in the past three years. The association argued that students need to be told how much marks were reduced as a result of the moderation exercise.

The bench remarked, “Going by the newspaper reports, everybody has scored very high marks.” However, since this data will be readily available with schools, the court agreed to grant this request. CBSE agreed to issue a circular in this regard. The court said, “On instructions, CBSE has submitted that it will issue directions to all the schools registered under that Board to notify the internal assessment marks, highest average in the preceding three years and the marks assigned by the Result Committee on case-to-case basis. That shall be the responsibility of the concerned school(s) where the students are pursuing studies.”

Both the examination boards – CBSE and the CISCE responded to the suggestions put forth by the association and submitted a tentative schedule for the improvement exams. CBSE counsel Rupesh Kumar informed the court that examination will be conducted for three category of students – those who apply for correction of results through dispute resolution mechanism, compartment candidates, and private/Patrachar/second chance compartment candidates. The option to register for the physical examination may be made available by August 10, he added.

The association demanded that the two boards should consider announcing the results by September 20 due to college admissions and entrance examinations such as JEE, NEET, etc. This court accepted the schedules provided by the two boards, and refused to pre-pone the dates.

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Thursday, January 27, 2022