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Onus on Petitioner To Show Unassailable Facts: Delhi High Court

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In the case of Rhythm Jain v National Testing Agency, the Delhi High Court mentioned that in such petitions the onus to prove the facts alleged rests on the Petitioner.

Brief Facts of the Case

This Writ Petition prayed for an order of Mandamus. The petition was filed to conduct a normalization exercise to reconcile the scores of the Petitioner to match the score they would likely have achieved without unforeseen interruptions during the DUET exam for BBA.

The DUET or Delhi University Entrance Test for Under-Graduate Admissions is conducted through the National Testing Agency for admission into various Bachelor’s courses at the Delhi University. The exam duration was two hours with 100 multiple-choice questions. It was computer-based and held across 24 cities. The Petitioner took the test on 07.09.2020 and received a result in the 98.9 percentile.

As there were many technical glitches on part of the organizing authority, they prayed for a normalization exercise.

Arguments by Parties

The Petitioner submitted that the whole process was riddled with technical errors. They relied on the case of Disha Panchal v UOI AIR 2018 SC 2824. The following facts were alleged:

Firstly, up until the 59th-minute things were running smoothly. After this mark, the computer system that the Petitioner was using shut down. Secondly, The invigilator assisted the Petitioner in restarting the computer as well as paper.

It was contended that no time had been lost in the electronic timer when the Petitioner continued with their attempt. Thirdly, at the 88th minute when they were at the 61st question they were informed that none of the answers that entered in the system was reaching the “main server” of Delhi University.

Fourthly, the official present at the examination centre gave the Petitioner a plain white A4 sheet to manually write every answer. It was stated that the Petitioner had to click 61 times to see all questions and make sure no clerical mistakes were being made. It was further argued that the Petitioner lost 30 minutes due to this issue.

The Respondent Agency denied all contentions of the Petitioner. They said that the total permitted time was 2 hours and the petitioner was given 2 hours and 9 minutes to complete the exam. As per the audit log, the petitioner logged in at 12.34 p.m. and began to attempt the questions. There was a temporary technical issue at 2.15 pm. The candidate logged in again at 2.22 pm. The petitioner got a compensated time of 9 minutes although he lost 7 minutes.

It was admitted that to avoid any panic, the candidate was advised to quickly note down the responses. The invigilator undertook to resolve the connectivity issue. Later on, the candidate was informed that the responses were being saved at the local server, which matched with the count attempted by the candidate. 

Court’s Observation

The Court remarked that the Petitioner urged that they should be compensated for the loss of 30 minutes. The Respondent stated that only 7 minutes were lost in a technical glitch, and yet 9 minutes had been given. This indicated that there was another technical glitch also while the exam was conducted. 

Based on the facts and evidence on record, the Court held that it cannot be concluded that the claim raised by the Petitioner was correct. The onus was on the Petitioner to show unassailable facts to enable the Court to accept their version. In contrast, the Court held that the Respondent has placed on record, facts based on computer records.

Additionally, the judgment of Disha Panchal v Union Of India AIR 2018 SC 2824 was said to have no bearing on the facts and circumstances of this case.

Court’s Order

The Delhi High Court rejected the petition on the ground that while the Respondent has proved their side of the case through computer records, the Petitioner had failed to do so.

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