The Bombay High Court on 11th July 2023 rejected a plea by 154 students to hold a re-examination for the Maharashtra State Common Entrance Test (CET) for MBA admission.
A division bench of Justices GS Patel and Neela Gokhale noted that out of 1lakh students who gave the entrance test, only a little over 150 students had raised grievances and sought quashing of the entrance test and admission process for the academic year 2023-24.
The division bench noted that the petition had been filed by a handful of students without considering the stand of the remaining candidates who had not approached the court.
“The entire stand of petitioners appears to be singularly unfair. We are asked to hold that the results of the vast majority will be thrown into jeopardy at the instance of less than one percent of students. Only 154 students came before us. They say the entire CET exam should be done again. No thought is spared to hundreds of thousands of others who gave their entrance exam. The petitioners do not represent all candidates, yet we are expected that all those persons suffer at the instance of present disgruntled persons without being given the slightest opportunity of being heard by the others,” the court said.
The court rejected the petition as it did not find substance in the grounds raised, but refrained from imposing costs considering the fact that the petitioners were students.
“It is indeed telling that all these complaints of structural failures or discrepancies are brought to life only after results are declared. We are wholly unable to see any substance in the petition. We reject it on facts and substance. As petitioners are students, we refrain from making an order of imposing costs,” the bench held.
The petitioner-students moved the court raising objections to the normalization of marks adopted by the CET cell after it conducted a re-test for some students.
On July 3, the division bench refused immediate interim relief to the petitioners and permitted the admission process in the State was vitiated due to a lack of transparency and fairness in the manner of conducting.
He added that the normalization process was flawed as there had to be an equal number of students in every batch.
Advocate General Dr Birendra Saraf, representing the Maharashtra Government, opposed the plea and submitted that in February this year, the schedule for the test was declared and over 1 lakh candidates were divided into four batches with separate exams to be conducted for them.
He added that in the first batch, there were some technical glitches and after students raised grievances, they were given an option to appear for the exam again in the ‘fifth’ and additional batch. Accordingly, a total of 11,562 students appeared for the fifth batch test on May 6 including more than 70 of the petitioners before the Court.
Saraf informed the court that there was a separate percentile score for the batch concerned.
The bench observed that the petitioners failed to show how the normalization process was unfair. It also said that the courts in India usually avoid interfering in matters related to public exams and the admission process and respect the autonomy of the authorities.
“AG Saraf is not wrong in describing this as an attempt to cancel the entire exam after those who took the slot five exams gambled on it and lost,” the bench remarked.