Calcutta High Court interprets the application of “Normalisation and Equalisation” in grading a candidate in the entrance exam for recruitment purpose

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Whether “Normalisation and Equalisation” can be used for evaluation of tests, when the prior instructions do not mention them? Calcutta High court answers the same in the case of Bipul Kumar Biswas and Ors V. Union of India. The judgement was delivered on 24th of April 2020 after a prolonged series of hearing.

Facts of the case

The Railway Recruitment Board (the respondents of the present case) issued a notification of Aug 16, 2012, calling for applications for the post of Group D employees. The notice was made in the form of advertisement to the public, hence was a binding representation.

The petitioners (the ones who applied for the test, Bipul Kumar and others) claimed that the advertisement stated that the selection was to be made on merit basis only, which meant through the marks obtained by the candidate in the written examination, and no other mode. The court examined clause 16 of the said advertisement before proceeding with the case, and the light was thrown on the same.

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The petitioners were called for the Physical Efficiency Test which implied that they got the minimum qualifying marks for the Written Exam. Further after the Physical Efficiency Test, the next in the stage was the document submission, and they were called for the same, but the medical examination which was a mandatory procedure was not conducted for them instead some other candidates were called.

It was at this point that they approached the tribunal for relief. The Respondents stated that they applied the process for “normalisation” and that showed that the candidates were more meritorious than required hence they were not called for the medical examination.

Petitioner’s Arguments

The Petitioners Counsels put forth the following principal points on the arguments:

  • The Advertisement that was issued in the newspaper did not explain anything regarding the applying of any normalisation process. Instead only mentioned that the candidates applying must get the minimum qualifying marks, after which they will be qualified for the further rounds of the test.
  • Accordingly, the petitioners were called for all the rounds, and in the last were rejected in the medical test, because the process of normalisation was applied.
  • The State could not have sorted to changing the selection procedure in the middle of the process, as they were meddling with the livelihood of the petitioners.
  • The counsel argued that normalisation can be adopted only when different examiners adopting different standards evaluate the answer script which had not occurred in this case.

Respondent’s Arguments

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The Respondents, that is the railway board mentioned the following arguments to the court

  • They simply pointed out that the writ petitioners who filed the case had knowledge and notice of how the selection procedure would be made beyond the notification of August 16th They substantiated the same with the detailed instructions given in the OMR sheets, showing that under no circumstances it implied that it was contended to marks alone.
  • The counsel for the respondents also stated that the very process of evaluation in railway recruitment is inclusive of “normalisation” or “equalisation” of mark obtained by the candidates. The authorities of Mahinder Kumar and ors v. Madhya Pradesh through Registrar General and others were cited for the same.
  • The counsel also stated that the process was adopted in the common law admission test of 2018 to be the correct methodology instead of annulling the entire examination.

Court’s Decision

The Calcutta High Court while examining the previous judgement given on this matter, which was heard on December 6th, 13th, 20th 2019 and January 3rd, 6th, 10th, 17th and 24th 2020. Stated that though the fact situation and question of law raised is very similar to the question raised in the case of L Chandrakumar v. Union of India, the present case cannot be judged on the same lines, as the application of “normalisation” or “equalisation” in a test can be done if the standards of question papers are different and method adopted for evaluation are different, which however was not so in the present case. Hence, the selected candidates are to be appointed immediately within 4 months of the judgement and it is not the courts prerogative to involve itself with the selection process.


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