Delhi High Court: Merit or Past Conduct of the Student is Irrelevant while Deciding the Case of Malpractices in Examination

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On 26th May, the Delhi High Court dismissed a writ petition by a student. The petition prayed for quashing the Delhi University’s order for cheating in the examination.

Facts of the Case

Ms Aarzoo Aggarwal is a final year student of B.A. (H) Economics at Daulat Ram College, University of Delhi. On December 2019, the examination for four papers of the 5th semester took place. The paper in `International Trade’ took place on 3rd December 2019. She was caught for cheating in the examination. She had filed the petition to challenge the University’s order. This order was of cancelling her whole examination. She prayed to quash the order and to declare her results.

Submission of the Petitioner

The petitioner’s case is that she was late for examination due to traffic. The petitioner carried her stationery pouch from her bag and straightway reached her seat. She claimed that she had prepared notes for the examination, which were in the form of placards. The placards stayed in her pouch.

She took out her pouch and started writing the examination and did not realise that the notes were in her pouch. She realised the same after half an hour. Soon after, she gave the same to the invigilator.

It is her case that despite her having done so on her own, the invigilator accused her of cheating. She submitted that there were three invigilators in the examination hall, and copying was not possible.

After that, the University on 12th March 2020 has declared the result of all the candidates, except the petitioner. The petitioner claims that she does not endorse any unethical practice. Furthermore, she states that she was ‘bullied’ into signing blank sheets.

Submission of the Respondent

The Counsel submits that the petitioner is guilty of completely misleading the Court. He relies upon the invigilator’s report as also the various undertakings, which the petitioner have signed.

In furtherance, he also relied upon the independent expert’s report. He had compared the answer sheets along with the notes and concluded that the candidate used the material in answering the paper.

The Counselling Committee recommended that she got under ‘Part B’ which denies her the whole examination. The impugned order got passed as per the recommendation of the Counselling Committee.

Observation of the Court

The Court noted that a meritorious student like the petitioner has not been open and had held back relevant documents and facts. She did not disclose that she signed the undertaking for ethical conduct and also the UFM (unfair means) Counselling Proforma. In all these documents, she has admitted that she had taken notes into the examination hall.

The examination commenced at 9:30 a.m. and was to end at 12.30 p.m. The invigilator’s report shows that they found the notes at 12:15 p.m. He detected the notes 15 minutes before the end of the examination.

The Court opined that from a perusal of the report that she had kept the notes under the answer scripts. The petitioner had stated in several documents that she was afraid to surrender the notes. The Court also observed the expert’s affirmation that the examinee used the notes which got seized.

The Court relied on the case of Director (Studies) v Vaibhav Singh Chauhan (2009) 1 SCC 59. It stated that the slip of paper found if pertained to the examination paper in question, then it is malpractice.

Court’s Decision

The Court held that resorting to unfair means does not elude even meritorious students. It opined that this case is an example of why merit or past of the student is entirely irrelevant in deciding malpractices.

The Court observed that copying and cheating in examinations are like the Plague. It is a pandemic which can ruin society and the educational system of any country. The same can have a harmful effect.

The Court pointed out that they could have proceeded with stricter action due to the false submissions made by the petitioner. But, considering the age of the petitioner, the Court has decided not to take any further action against the petitioner.

Justice Pratibha Singh heard the matter. The Court dismissed the writ petition and upheld the University’s decision to cancel the entire examination.


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