Decoding SC Verdict on Competitive Exams

The Supreme Court believes that there should be a line drawn to decide the extent of judicial involvement in the competitive examination department. The sanctity should be maintained. In this article, the readers will get a brief idea about how examination, examination conducting authority and the Courts depend upon each other. How the judicial system of our country protects the rights of every individual and procures justice to everyone. The article will give you a brief idea about various cases on competitive exams and judgements on them.


“Exams to lose sanctity if courts kept on interfering”

The Supreme Court of India

Examinations have an important role in the process of learning. Students are the backbone of our country. These examinations which are stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic are really important. Students’ lives especially students of 12th or final year are the worst affected sect. These exams only can determine which courses and career they want. There are many verdicts given by the SC which has simplified the lives of students. In India, many authorities hold competitive exams, like, government exams are conducted by Union Public Services Commission(UPSC), and many more authorities like Union Grant Commission(UGC), National Testing Agency(NTA), Central Board Of Secondary Education(CBSE) etc.            


There are various judgements given by the SC on examination conducting authorities and students. These are some of them-

  1. U.P.P.S.C., Through its Chairman & Anr. V Rahul Singh

A student who gave UPSC in the year 2017 challenged the question paper saying that answers are wrong and one question has more than one correct answer. In the judgement, Allahabad High Court deleted one question, another question had two correct answers and thirdly it was said that the Commission has given wrong answers in the answer key. The judgement was then challenged by the Commission stating that the Court  went beyond its jurisdiction and that the answer sheet was made on the report of two committees of experts.

  1.  Kupur University, through Vice Chancellor and Others v Samir Gupta and Others

The question was, what is the extent and power of the court in academics?

This case is the first reference that the SC took. It was held that the answer key should be held correct unless proven wrong. It must not be proven wrong on the basis of reasoning or by a process of rationalisation. The wrong must be properly demonstrated to be wrong. There was a system established in the case:

  • Moderation
  • Preventing doubtful questions
  • Quick decisions to be taken on suspected questions and no marks for the same.  
  1. Ran Vijay Singh and others v State of Uttar Pradesh and Others

This is the second case that the SC referred to answer the aforementioned question and answered in the following points:

  • If any clause in the rules of examination says to recheck an answer sheet, then the concerned authority may permit to do so. If the authority doesn’t permit so, then the court can allow the re-evaluation irrespective of any “inferential process of reasoning or rationalisation”. 
  • The court cannot re-check any student’s paper because it has no expertise of the same.
  • The court shall assume the answers to be correct and if there is doubt the concerned authority is given the benefit and not the concerned student.
  1. In a recent judgement by a bench consisting of three judges namely, Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ravindra Bhat, for the examination of Common Law Entrance Test (CLAT), the SC has rejected the plea of conducting it on an offline basis. The petitioner was of the view that the exam was to be held on an offline mode then why the process has changed? And then what about students who do not have a laptop or computers to take the test. Finally, the decision by the CLAT Consortium came out that it will take the test on an online mode, centre based.
  1. University of Calcutta & Ors. v Pritam Rooj

This case concerns a student named Pritam Rajput, a very bright student from Kolkata, West Bengal. He appeared for Part II of the Bachelor’s degree examination and secured only 28 marks out of 100 in the fifth paper. He applied for the re-evaluation for the same. Upon re-evaluation, he secured only 4 more marks and a fresh re-evaluated marksheet. Due to low grades, he could not get admitted to Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. 

He then applied for a request under RTI Act on 14 August 2007, asking for a copy of the Answer sheet from the university. But the university replied that under Section 8 (1)(e) of the RTI, 2005, they were not allowed to do the same. Thus, the application by Pritam was rejected by the university.

Pritam then took legal help and he filed a case at the Calcutta High Court. The court gave the verdict on 3 March 2008 in Pritam’s favour and asked the university to disclose the answer-sheet to him. This verdict was again challenged by the University of Calcutta and CBSE in the Calcutta HC. But the court stood by its order.

The judgement was again challenged by both Calcutta university and CBSE in the SC on 5 February 2009. As a matter of fact, many other examination conducting authorities joined them in opposition to disclosure of answer sheets to the students concerned. Now, Pritam, intended to back off from the case but an Advocate named Divya Jyoti Jaipuriar interfered and took the case and represented millions of students of the country. Finally, the judgement of the SC came out and it supported the judgement given by the Calcutta HC and allowed the disclosure of the answer-sheets.


The SC has in the aforesaid judgements clearly indicated that the court will not interfere in situations where the Examination authority is in the position of scrutiny and not the student. Also, if any error occurs then that body of students will suffer and not the whole examination process. The court must consider checks and balances by the authorities conducting exams before giving any judgements for the candidates. It will be a sheer waste of the efforts put in by candidate or the authority. Just because some students are disappointed doesn’t mean the whole lot will suffer for the same. Also, what if the student waits for the decision of the court, for the result of the exam, whether they have passed or failed, whether they are admitted to the college or university? This will avoid the situation and confusion among students and will also avoid suffering of public interest.

There are many cases filed in the SC regarding exams:

In a recent judgement of the bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah the question was whether the state government can cancel the final examination for degrees, even though the University Grants Commission (UGC) has declared that colleges should take the final exams by September 30. The main question is whether the state government had the power under the Disaster Management Act to hold Exams? Also, many colleges have been converted to COVID-19 test centres. The SC simply denied interference in the same. The court asked the authorities to follow the UGC conditions and if any student for any genuine reason cannot be able to give exams can be given another try.

This judgement has also created a conflict between the UGC and DM Act. The point was that the UGC can only lay down guidelines after consulting with the universities under Section 12 of the UGC Act. The states are of the opinion that the UGC has made these guidelines on their own.


There are many hurdles for conducting online exams due to which the state government is taking steps to cancel it. Also, many colleges have been converted to COVID-19 test centres. Most of the students appearing for exams from the States of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi belong to rural areas and do not have access to laptops. If they connect from mobile phones also, they face many difficulties like connectivity, internet speed. This can lead to depression among students.  

The UGC has already declared that we cannot accept students without passing the final examinations. The guidelines of the UGC are binding on all the universities. There are many final year students who have either cleared job interviews or have taken admissions for further studies. So, why not grant them certificates on the basis of past performance so that their future is secured. 

The distribution of certificates and degrees on the basis of past performance can be a problem for many students, who have not scored well in their internals and were planning to give a hit at the last moment. What about students who have scored less in their mocks and others? These students bear a low impression among teachers and may affect their degrees and certificates. So there are many problems for conducting examinations and not conducting it.


This can be easily concluded that the life of the students will never get affected by any judicial proceedings. Due to this pandemic, the scenario has changed a lot. This year, students may be given grades and degrees on past performance and the judiciary will support it. The life of students should not be affected and that is the main motive of all the courts and the UGC.

Frequently Asked Question

  1. Will the exams be postponed?

The UGC is the conducting authority and the court has decided not to interfere, so let us wait for its further guidelines.

  1. What will be the effect on the students’ lives?

To be honest, the life of final year students are at stake, they are the worst affected section. Other students are at home and attending online classes. 

  1. Will there be distribution of e-degree?

For now, there are some universities who have sent degree certificates to their students so that it can help them to get further jobs and plans.

  1. What about the people who have completed their interview?

They should wait for the best to come out of all judgements and guidelines and make their skills sharp.

  1. Is the court’s decision, not to interfere?

Maybe, as the court said, they cannot have expertise in all the fields, so the UGC who has been made for conducting exams should see their own area of work. The courts are always welcoming them to resolve their disputes, keeping in mind that no students get affected by the same.



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