Questions of Forgery, Tampering Not Capable of Summary Adjudication Under Article 226 in Delhi High Court’s Jee Marks Case

Questions of fraud, forgery, and tampering require elaborate evidence as per the ruling of the Delhi High Court making it incapable of summary adjudication under Article 226 of the Constitution (Gaurav Jaiswal v. Union of India).

Brief Facts: 

The Petitioner was an IIT aspirant. He had appeared in the JEE (Mains) conducted by the National Testing Agency in January 2020 and September 2020. The Petitioner stated that the final scoresheet of the JEE (Main) examination published in September 2020 wrongly reflected the percentile in which he was placed in the January 2020 examination. The Petitioner annexed a print-out of his scoresheet from January 2020. He claimed that his percentile was 98.8105888.  After the second edition of JEE Mains in September 2020, the same had been reduced to 51.8105888.  This was in the combined scoresheet.

NTA opposed the petition on the ground that the paper book scoresheet was a forged one. To show that the Petitioner was in fact placed in percentile 51.8105888, NTA filed a copy of the scoresheet. National Informatics Centre supported NTA’s stand. Advocate Paras Jain appeared for the Petitioner.  Standing Counsel Dev P Bhardwaj represented the Centre. NTA was represented by Advocates Amit Bansal and Seema Dolo.  IIT was represented by Advocate Arjun Mitra. 

Contentions:

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NTA stated that the submissions of the Petitioner were false and fabricated. The agency argued that if the Petitioner had been placed in percentile 98.8105888 in the January 2020 session, he would have been assured of his eligibility for the JEE (Advanced) examination. It was very unlikely of him to have tried his luck in the September 2020 round of the JEE (Main).

The Petitioner asserted that there was a discrepancy between his OMR responses. This was of the September 2020 session as downloaded by him, and the copies were placed on record by the NTA.  The Petitioner stated that the result had been tampered with by NTA. 

Court’s Observation:

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A Single Judge Bench of Justice Prateek Jalan was set up. The Court rejected the allegation, calling it a red herring. It noted that the September 2020 session was not the subject matter of the present writ petition at all. There was no challenge to the September 2020 result declared by NTA. 

The Court stated that the grievances of the Petitioner were not germane to the determination of the present petition. This was regarding the OMR sheets of the September 2020 examination. The Court considered that the Petitioner had not downloaded the January OMR sheet. It was impossible for the Petitioner to state that the NTA’s stand was incorrect as observed by the Court.  The Petitioner relied on SC judgment in Popatrao Vyankatrao Patil v State of Maharashtra & Ors. This was to contend that the existence of disputed questions of fact did not entirely preclude the jurisdiction of the writ court.

Something done in an appropriate case cannot be followed in every case as stated by the Court. The Court concluded that the present case did not fall within the exception stated under Supreme Court’s Popatrao. It stated that it couldn’t be stated that NTA acted unreasonably and arbitrarily. Fraud, forgery, and tampering issues raised there required elaborate evidence. 

Court’s Decision:

The petition was dismissed with liberty to the Petitioner to take such other remedy as may be available to him in law.

Click here for the judgment


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