Sanchit Bansal & ANR.
Vs. The Joint Admission Board (JAB) & Ors.
J U D G M E N T
R. V. Raveendran, J.
first appellant is the son of second appellant who is a Professor in the Indian
Institute of Technology (IIT for short), Kharagpur. Admission to undergraduate
courses in fifteen IITs as also IT--BHU and ISM, Dhanbad is through the Common Entrance
Examination known as the Joint Entrance Examination (for short IIT-JEE). The
said examination is considered to be the toughest entrance examination in India,
with more than 50 candidates vying for each seat in the said examination.
IIT-JEE is conducted every year by a different IIT on a rotation basis and is supervised
by the Joint Admission Board (JAB or the `Board'), the first respondent herein.
The first appellant appeared in the IIT-JEE 2006, as a general category
candidate. He secured 75 marks in Methamatics, 104 marks in Physics and 52 marks
in Chemistry, aggregating to 231. The Board had fixed the cut off marks for
admission as 37 for Maths, 48 for Physics and 55 for Chemistry and the
aggregate cut off marks as 154. As first appellant did not secure the minimum of
55 marks in chemistry he was not qualified, even though his aggregate in the
three subjects was very high.
second appellant wrote a letter dated 5.9.2006 to all the IIT
Chairmen/Directors alleging anomalies and inherent contradictions in the
selection process. He alleged that the cut off marks were fixed arbitrarily and
with malafides in a manner that a student such as the first appellant with 231 marks
was found to be not qualified whereas a student who got aggregate marks of 154
was found to have qualified. The appellants also filed several applications under
the Right to Information Act 2005 and collected considerable data. The
appellants claim that when they sought information about the procedure for computation
of cut off marks for JEE 2006 the organising Chairman, JEE 2006 gave two different
versions at different points of time.
first response given by the Organizing Chairman, JEE 2006 on 14.5.2007 read as
follows : "Procedure for computation of cut-off marks etc. for JEE 2006 1.
"Consistent with announced criteria of "Ranking" and
"Tie-breaking" given in Section 11.1 and 11.2 of the Information
Brochure of JEE 2006 the different cut-offs were decided. 2. On the basis of
overall performance of candidates who appeared in all the three subjects (Mathematics,
Physics & Chemistry), mean marks of each of the three subjects along with
standard deviation was determined. The cut-off in each subject was decided as mean
marks minus one standard deviation. Further depending on the number of candidates
required to be qualified on All India basis, the aggregate marks cut-off was
obtained. The cut-off marks of individual subject and aggregate are given below
for GE category candidates:-
The second response given
by the organizing Chairman, JEE 2006 on 12.7.2007 was as under: "Procedure
for cut-off determination in JEE-2006: (i) For each subject, mean and standard deviation
of the marks obtained are computed. For this computation only scores of those candidates
who have secured minimum 1 (one) mark in each of the three subjects have been
considered. (ii) The cut-off marks of an individual subject is calculated as
Cut-off mark of a subject = Mean of the marks for the subject - Standard
deviation of the marks for the subject The result has been rounded to the
nearest integer. (iii) The mean and standard deviation of the aggregate marks are
calculated for those candidates who score at least one mark in each subject (iv)
The aggregate cut-off mark is calculated as Aggregate cut-off = (Mean of
aggregate marks - Standard deviation of aggregate marks) rounded to nearest
integer + a positive number The number selected for counseling (i.e. qualified in
JEE-2006 for counseling) is 1.3 X the number of seats available in all participating
Institutions. Each time 1(one) mark is added to the mean-standard deviation of the
aggregate marks and the number obtained is compared with the desired number.
This process is continued until one arrives at the desired number to be called
aggrieved by his non-selection, which according to appellants was due to a
defective, erroneous and malafide process adopted for cut-off determination,
the appellants filed a writ petition (WP 11434 (W) of 2007) claiming the
following reliefs, apart from several consequential reliefs : 5(a) To quash the
selection and merit list of admissions to IIT/ITBHU/ISM on the basis of JEE
2006 as it was prepared on the basis of imposition of illogical and cut off
marks in three subjects without any rational basis;(b) to prepare and publish
fresh chemistry marks for admissions to IITs in regard to JEE 2006 after making
appropriate corrections in evaluation by adjusting the wrong evaluation and on
that basis prepare and publish fresh merit list for admission to IITs/ITBHU/ISM
in regard to JEE 2006.
learned Single Judge dismissed the said writ petition holding as follows :(a) The
appellants could not challenge the procedure for determination of cut off in
JEE 2006 as they had given a signed declaration that the decision of JAB
regarding the admission to be final and they would abide by the said
decision.(b) The respondents had justified as to the manner of arriving at the cut
off marks for Chemistry in JEE 2006 and it was within the domain of the Joint
Admission Board to decide upon the procedure for determining such cut off and there
was no material to show that the procedure adopted was flawed or arbitrary.
aggrieved, the appellants filed an appeal. A division bench by an interim order
dated 7.7.2009 directed the Chairman of the first respondent Board to cause any
of the Directors of the IITs in India to prepare and submit a report regarding the
working out of cut off marks of Chemistry based on formula and/or norms on the
basis of information disclosed under the RTI Act and also disclosed in the
affidavit in opposition. The division bench also permitted the appellants to
procure any expert's report in regard to working out of cut off marks in regard
to Chemistry by following the aforesaid two norms and submit the report.
pursuance of it, the appellants secured the two reports both dated 17.7.2009 from
T. A. Abinandanan, Professor, Department of Materials Engineering, Indian
Institute of Science, Bangalore.
The first report was
on the calculation of the cut off marks in Chemistry. The concluding portion of
the said opinion is extracted below: "Therefore, the cut-off marks of
Chemistry as per the formula provided in the affidavit-in-opposition comes out
to be Six (6). This cannot be 55.
Conclusions : Cut-off
marks in Chemistry were calculated in two different methods; in both the methods,
the formula is the same: "Mean minus Standard Deviation"; however, the
methods differ in the candidate populations used for computing the Mean and Standard
The calculated value
of the Mean and Standard Deviation will depend on the candidate population used
in arriving at these two quantities. The cut-off marks in Chemistry, comes out,
correctly and precisely, to be MINUS SIX and SIX, respectively, based on the
formula and/or norms on the basis of information disclosed under the Right to
Information Act, and disclosed in the affidavit in opposition. The Chemistry cut-off
marks cannot be 55 by any of the disclosed formulas.
" The second report
dated 17.7.2009 of Prof. T.A. Abinandanan was on the analysis of candidates' performance
in JEE 2006. We extract below the conclusion in the said report : "A comparison
between my findings and the data provided by IIT- Kharagpur reveals the
of candidates in the two categories:
A: I found 145,439 candidates in this category, in perfect agreement with the
data provided by IIT- Kharagpur.
B: I found 287,564 candidates in this category, in perfect agreement with the
data provided by IIT- Kharagpur.
marks in Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry:
A of this study
B of this study,
for the sake of completeness
In terms of cut-off
marks, my findings do not agree at all with the data provided by IIT-Kharagpur.
Since the procedure used by IIT-Kharagpur for the determination of the cut-off is
the same as the computation I performed for candidates in Category A, a direct
comparison is valid. 3. For the subject of Chemistry, following the formula provided
by IIT-Kharagpur, the cut-off marks determined by my analysis is only 6, whereas
it is 55 in the data provided by IIT-Kharagpur."
JAB appointed a two member committee of IIT Directors (Mr. Gautam Barua,
Director, IIT, Guwahati and Mr. Dewang Khakhar, Director, IIT, Bombay) to work out
the cut-off marks for chemistry. They gave the following report dated 19.7.2009
: "The committee first of all noted that the issue of cut-off marks in
each of the subjects of the examination, namely, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics
has been present in the JEE system for a number of years. The principle behind having
cut-off marks is to ensure that a candidate qualifying the JEE examination
satisfies a minimum proficiency level in each of the subjects. As the difficulty
level of the question papers vary from year to year, no absolute pass mark can
be set as is normally done in examinations. Thus the pass mark has to be
relative to the performance of the candidates of that particular year. The
committee examined the procedure for subject cut-off marks in JEE 2006 as submitted
in an affidavit to the Calcutta High Court and the procedure given against an
RTI application. The committee noted that the procedures given in these document
did not contain sufficient details to calculate the cut offs. A presentation was
made before the committee by officials of IIT Kharagpur, including the Chairman
JEE 2006, to explain in detail the procedure used in determining the cut-off marks
in JEE 2006. The procedure was also given in writing along with sample
calculations based on the actual data of JEE 2006 (attached as Annexures B-G). A
demonstration of the computer program implementing the above procedure and using
the actual JEE 2006 data, was made before the committee. The results obtained
from this demonstration were found to be the same as reported in the Annexures.
The committee also examined the computer program used in the demonstration and
found that it was as per the procedures reported in the Annexures. The committee
was satisfied that the procedures outlined in the Annexures are systematic and complete.
The committee also verified that these procedures give the actual cut offs in
JEE 2006 for all the subjects, including Chemistry, and also the aggregate cut
offs, as reported in the RTI disclosure."
division bench considered the said reports and the contentions of the parties
and by impugned order dated 6.1.2010 held that it was unable to grant any relief
to the first appellant as it was not inclined to sit over the wisdom of the body
of experts and the appellants had not made out any malafides. It also noted that
the procedure adopted in 2007 and 2008 was more transparent and simple than the
selection process of 2006 and the JAB had made an effort after JEE 2006 to
ensure that the candidates get a clearer picture, demonstrating that there were
no possibilities of any unfair means in the process of selection. The said
judgment is challenged in this appeal by special leave.
question for consideration is whether the procedure adopted by the Board to
arrive at the cut off marks for JEE 2006 is arbitrary and mala fide and whether
the High Court ought to have interfered in the matter.
counsel for the appellants submitted that the minutes of the meeting of JAB
2006 held on 17.9.2005 which laid down the procedure for holding the JEE 2006,
furnished by the respondents, did not contain the cut off procedure for JEE 2006.
It was submitted that the cut off procedure which was fixed before the examination
was repeatedly changed after the examination and that the two different versions
given by the Board at different points of time demonstrated that none of the procedures
showed 55% as the chemistry cut off marks; that the procedure adopted was full
of errors and defects; and that if the iterative procedure explained by the
Board was implemented correctly, the effect would be to increasing the Maths
cut off marks from 37 to 42 and decreasing Physics cut off marks from 48 to 44
and Chemistry cut off marks from 55 to 51. It was also contended that the Chemistry
cut off marks were probably manipulated to exclude appellant No.1 from the JEE
merit list as Prof. S.K. Dube, Chairman, Joint Admission Board 2006 (then
Director, IIT, Karagpur) and Prof. V.K.Tiwari, organizing Chairman, JEE 2006
had a personal grudge against the second appellant who was a Professor of
Computer Science and Engineering at IIT, Kharagpur.
the other hand the respondents submitted that the IIT-JEE examination is time
tested and world renowned and has produced some of the brightest brains of India
who have excelled in fields even apart from engineering and technology such as civil
services, management etc; and entrance examination is held in high regard for its
transparency and objectivity. It was submitted that the JAB and the organizing
Institute had ensured that all steps were taken to maintain the confidentiality
of the process as well as the identity of the candidates and for that purpose
used a bar code on the left and right hand side of each OMR sheet and it was
not possible to prejudice a particular candidate by any manual process. It was
further submitted that the calculation of the cut off marks had been done on
the basis of the procedure adopted by the Board in a completely transparent and
objective manner; and there was no possibility of any manual intervention in either
the calculation of cut off marks or in calculation of marks of any individual
is no doubt true that the simplest and most straight forward method of
selecting the candidates to be called for counseling would be to take the
candidates in the order of merit (with reference to actual marks) subject to
their possessing a pre-declared minimum marks in each subject. For example the Board
can decide beforehand that the aggregate cut off marks for eligibility would be
150, that is 50 in each of the three subjects and prepare a merit list of the
candidates who fulfil the said criteria and then call the first 5500 students in
the merit list, in the order of merit for counseling. This would be the
the Board wants to select candidates with consistent performance in all three subjects.
To achieve this result and shortlist about 5500 candidates from out of 287564 candidates,
the above mentioned traditional procedures will not be of assistance. Therefore,
a rather complicated but scientific procedure has been followed. We may at this
juncture set out the Evaluation procedure for JEE 2006 and the Procedure for cut-off
determination in JEE 2006 done by iterative process, followed by the Board.
Procedure for JEE 2006 Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) conducted by the IITs
for admission to the Under-graduate course in all the seven IITs, IT-BHU and ISM
Dhanbad is considered to be the best and the toughest admission test in the world.
This is primarily intended to attract the brightest of the young minds for
education and research in engineering and technology in India. Joint Entrance
Examination (JEE)-2006 was conducted on 9th April 2006 was one stage of
examination as approved by the Joint Admission Board (JAB).
In this examination, there
were three question papers namely Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. Each
question paper was objective type in nature to test the aptitude and comprehension
ability of the candidates. Each question paper is a question-cum-answer book
named as Question Paper Booklet (QPB). This question paper booklet has
questions with a space for rough work and the answer sheet which is a machine gradable
bar coded OMR sheet attached to the question paper at the end. This OMR has two
parts i.e. Left Hand Side and Right Hand Side with codes on both the side. After
the examination, the question paper booklets are collected from the candidates
and submitted to the respective Institutes by the representatives of that
Institute. The evaluation procedure is as follows:
7 This question paper
booklet centre wise is given to different Professors who are named as Chief Coder/coders.
For each subject one Chief coder along with 10-12 coders are involved. Depending
upon the number of candidates the total numbers of coders vary from Institute to
7 Under the strict
supervision of all the Chief coders, the coders separate the OMR Sheet from
each of the question paper booklets and arranged them in the prescribed manner.
7 These sheets are
then separated into two parts i.e. Right Hand Side and Left Hand Side and
arranged in prescribed manner.7 Left Hand Side contains the personal data of
the candidates including the Centre of Examination and his Registration No.
7 Right Hand Side
contains the response of the candidates which he has answered in response to
each of the question. This response is given by bubbling the appropriate answer
circle as specified.
7 RHS and LHS of
these OMR answer sheet are separately scanned for all the candidates. Accuracy and
consistency in this process of scanning are verified with sufficient number of data
points for each subject and at each IIT with the same machine and its setting.
While compiling these marks, full secrecy about the identity of the candidates is
maintained by the Bar Code already present in the RHS and LHS.
"It may be mentioned
that in order to maintain quality of the candidates getting admission in IITs/IT-BHU
and ISM Dhanbad, the consistent performance in all three subjects is required.
The candidates having marks equal to zero or negative in any one of the
subjects are not considered for determining subject cut-off and ranking.
Candidates having marks equal to one (1) or more in all three subjects are
considered for determining cut-off and ranking.
CUT-OFF DETERMINATION IN JEE-2006:
(i) For each subject,
mean and standard deviation of the marks obtained are computed. For this
computation only scores of those candidates who have secured minimum of 1 (one)
mark in each of the three subjects have been considered.
(ii) The cut-off
marks of an individual subject is calculated as Cut-off mark of a subject = Mean
of the marks for the subject - Standard deviation of the marks for the subject.
The result has been rounded to the nearest integer.
(iii) The mean and standard
deviation of the aggregate marks are calculated for those candidates who score
at least one mark in each subject.(iv)The aggregate cut-off mark is calculated
as Aggregate cut-off = (Mean of aggregate marks - Standard deviation of Aggregate
marks) rounded to nearest integer -- a positive number. The number selected for
counseling (i.e. qualified in JEE-2006 for counseling) is 1.3 x the number of seats
available in all participating Institutions. Each time 1 (one) mark is added to
the mean-standard deviation of the aggregate marks and the number obtained is compared
with the desired number. This process is continued until one arrives at the
desired number to be called for counseling.
Based on the cut-off
marks in the individual subjects as well as aggregate marks in the Examination,
a common merit list will be prepared without any relaxed criteria. In addition,
separate merit lists of candidates belonging to SC, ST and PD categories will be
prepared with different relaxed norms relevant to their categories. While preparing
these merit lists, if a candidate belongs to more than one category of relaxed
norms, he/she shall be considered only in the category in which he/she gets the
maximum benefit. There will not be any separate list of wait listed candidates.
PROCEDURE FOR THE
criterion adopted for awarding ranks to the candidates who have scored same
aggregate marks is as follows :For each subject, the mean mark will be
calculated on the basis of marks obtained by those candidates who have appeared
in all three subjects. A candidate will be ranked higher, if he/she has scored
higher marks in the subject having the lowest mean marks. If two or more
candidate scored the same marks in the above mentioned subject, then the marks
of the subject
with second lowest mean
marks will be used for breaking the tie. Candidates scoring the same marks in
all three subjects will be given the same rank."
illustrating procedure for subject cut off determination of JEE 2006
A Recalculate cut off
marks (rounded to nearest lower integer) for each subject cut off = Mean mark -standard
deviation Add 1 mark to each subject cut off Number of GE candidates to be Recalculate
N by applying cut off marks obtained in previous stepNumber of candidates Number
of seats available for qualified in the merit list appeared in all the papers
in admission : 4217 (GE) +411 (No.):4217x1.3 = 5482.1 = 5500JEE 2006 : 287564 Recalculate
( N SC) + by a 164( pplyi ST) ng c = ut- 5444 off marks obtained in previous
step Recalculate number of GE candidates appeared in list of N Number candidates
(Nc) Recalculate number of GE candidates, Nc Yes Set cut off marks for PCM to 1
and calculate number of candidates sa If tisfying cut off marks
(N) Yes Nc>ND If Nc>ND
No Calculate mean and standard deviation of each subject for N candidates No Set
cut off marks and data set of previous iteration Subtract 1 mark from cut off
marks of the subject having rhe lowest average A Recalculate N by applying cut
off marks obtained in previous step Recalculate the number of GE candidates,
Nc Yes If Nc>ND C No
Subtract 1 mark from cut off marks of the subject having lower average. Recalculate
N by applying cut off marks obtained in previous step Recalculate number of GE
Nc B 16 C B Print the
final cut off marks for mathematics, physics and chemistry
By following the said
procedure the respondents claim to have obtain the Yes following successive
subject cut off marks :
cut off marks
cut off marks
cut off marks
calculated GE required
final cut off marks by subtracting 1 mark from cut off marks of subject
having low average
Thereafter taking the
data set of the 5585 candidates shortlisted as per the subject cut off process,
the aggregate cut off is determined by the following iterative process
:"Initially the cut off mark is taken as 1 and on that basis calculate the
number of candidates satisfying the cut off marks. As against the total of the
candidates who had secured one mark each in each of the 3 subjects the
candidates were found to be 134449. Thereafter the mean in regard to each
subject is calculated by dividing total number of marks secured by each
candidate in a particular paper and then dividing the number of candidates who
appeared for the paper. This gives the mean. Then the standard deviation is
arrived at by adopting the formula Standard Deviation = s,
Mean = X,
Individual marks = M,
Number of Student =
Then the idea is to
reduce the number from 134449 to around 5500. The cut off marks were
recalculated for each subject by adopting the formula of cut off marks being
mean marks less standard deviation of the marks and rounding it off to the
lowest integer. Then if the number is still more, again calculate by applying
the cut off marks procedure with reference to the reduced number. By this
process the cut off marks have been arrived at in regard to each subject for
5585 which was nearest to 5500. Thereafter taking the data set of the said 5585
shortlisted the aggregate cut off was determined by following iterative process
"Step 1 Total desired
number of candidates to be called for counseling (including SC,ST and PD
candidates) > 6307 (NTD). This number is disclosed in the Counseling
Brochure sent to all the qualified candidates
Step 2 Take dataset
(N) obtained after arriving at the final subject cut- off marks.
Step 3 Calculate Mean
and Standard Deviation of the aggregate marks for dataset N.
Step 4 Calculate
aggregate cut-off of GE candidates by the formula: Aggregate cut-off (171) =
mean of aggregate marks (212.555) - standard deviation of aggregate marks
(41.30975). (Note : The value was rounded off to the nearest lower integer)
Step 5 Calculate
cut-off marks of SC/ST, PD by the formula: Subject cut-off of SC/ST = 0.3 x
subject cut-off of GE candidates Aggregate cut-off of SC/ST = 0.6 x aggregate cut-off
of GE candidates Subject cut-off of PD = 0.8 x subject cut-off of GE candidates
Aggregate cut-off of PD = 0.9 x aggregate cut-off GE candidates 18
Step 6 Use subject cut-off
and aggregate cut-offs for all categories to obtain the total desired number,
Step 7 Calculate
total numbers of candidates, NT.
Step 8 If NT <
NTD, decrease GE aggregate cut-off by 1 mark and go to step 4.
Step 9 If NT > NTD,
Print NT with all categories. The calculation is stopped."
a layman, the above procedure may appear to be highly cumbersome and
complicated. But the object of the aforesaid procedure for arriving at the
cut-off marks is to select candidates well equipped in all the three subjects, with
reference to their merit, weighed against the average merit of all the
candidates who appeared in the examination. The fact that the procedure was
complicated would not make it arbitrary or unreasonable or discriminatory.
are several statistical methods of preparing the ranking for purpose of selecting
the best candidates for admission to a course, some simple and some complex. Each
method or system has its merits and demerits and can be adopted only under certain
conditions or by making certain assumptions. Any such statistical techniques should
be under continuous review and evaluation to achieve improvement, in the light of
experience gained over the years and new developments, if it is a reliable tool
in the selection process.
Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education v. Paritosh
Bhupeshkumar Sheth [1984 (4) SCC 27] it was observed thus : "...the Court
should be extremely reluctant to substitute its own views as to what is wise, prudent
and proper in relation to academic matters in preference to those formulated by
professional men possessing technical expertise and rich experience of actual
day-to-day working of educational institutions and the departments controlling
them."In All India Council for Technical Education v. Surinder Kumar Dhawan
[2009 (11) SCC 726] this court held :
"The courts are neither
equipped nor have the academic or technical background to substitute themselves
in place of statutory professional technical bodies and take decisions in academic
matters involving standards and quality of technical education. If the courts
start entertaining petitions from individual institutions or students to permit
courses of their choice, either for their convenience or to alleviate hardship
or to provide better opportunities, or because they think that one course is equal
to another, without realizing the repercussions on the field of technical education
in general, it will lead to chaos in education and deterioration in standards of
The role of statutory
expert bodies on education and role of courts are well defined by a simple
rule. If it is a question of educational policy or an issue involving academic
matter, the courts keep their hands off. If any provision of law or principle
of law has to be interpreted, applied or enforced, with reference to or
connected with education, the courts will step in." (emphasis supplied) 20This
Court also repeatedly held that courts are not concerned with the practicality
or wisdom of the policies but only illegality. In Directorate of Film Festivals
v. Gaurav Ashwin Jain [2007 (4) SCC 737] this court held :
"....Courts do not
and cannot act as appellate authorities examining the correctness, suitability and
appropriateness of a policy, nor are courts advisors to the executive on matters
of policy which the executive is entitled to formulate. The scope of judicial review
when examining a policy of the Government is to check whether it violates the
fundamental rights of the citizens or is opposed to the provisions of the
Constitution, or opposed to any statutory provision or manifestly arbitrary. Courts
cannot interfere with policy either on the ground that it is erroneous or on
the ground that a better, fairer or wiser alternative is available. Legality of
the policy, and not the wisdom or soundness of the policy, is the subject of judicial
review..." (emphasis supplied)
the process of evaluation, the process of ranking and selection of candidates
for admission with reference to their performance, the process of achieving the
objective of selecting candidates who will be better equipped to suit the specialized
courses, are all technical matters in academic field and courts will not interfere
in such processes. Courts will interfere only if they find all or any of the
(i) violation of any
enactment, statutory Rules and Regulations;
(ii) mala fides or ulterior
motives to assist or enable private gain to someone or cause prejudice to
anyone; or where the procedure adopted is arbitrary and capricious. An action is
said to be arbitrary and capricious, where a person, in particular, a person in
authority does any action based on individual discretion by ignoring prescribed
rules, procedure or law and the action or decision is founded on prejudice or
preference rather than reason or fact. To be termed as arbitrary and capricious,
the action must be illogical and whimsical, something without any reasonable
explanation. When an action or procedure seeks to achieve a specific objective
in furtherance of education in a bona fide manner, by adopting a process which is
uniform and non-discriminatory, it cannot be described as arbitrary or
capricious or mala fide.
appellants in this case have alleged mala fides on the part of Chairman of the Board
and Chairman of the Organising Committee. The allegation is that on account of personal
enmity, rivalry and hostility harboured by them towards the second appellant, who
happens to be a professor at IIT, Kharagpur, they manipulated the ranking and selection
process and deliberately set cut-off marks to deny admission to second
appellants' son, a seat in an IIT.
The appellants have not
made out, even remotely, any such motive, in regard to the procedure for
arriving at the cut-off marks. The claim that to deny admission to one student from
among more than 2,87,000 students, they manipulated the process of fixing
cut-off marks is too far fetched and difficult to accept, apart from the fact
that there is no iota of material to support such a claim. It is too much to
assume that where nearly three lakhs candidates appeared, a particular procedure
was adopted to ensure that a particular candidate failed.
It would appear that
somewhat similar procedure was adopted in the year 2000 and 2001. The iterative
procedure involving mean and standard deviation of the scores, similar to JEE 2006
was followed in JEE 2001. The object of the entire exercise was to ensure a balanced
selection among the candidates who participated in the examination. IIT-JEE is
a renowned examination trusted by the entire student world. It is not only a
difficult examination to pass, but a difficult examination to rank and select
the best of candidates having good knowledge in all three subjects.
appellants next contended that the first appellant had obtained 231 marks and he
had been found to be unsuitable whereas candidates who got 154 were found
suitable, this was absurd and illogical. There is nothing illogical about the process.
The minimum aggregate cut off was 154. The minimum cut off for individual
subjects was 37, 48 and 55 for Maths, Physics and Chemistry. If a candidate had
secured the minimum in three subjects and had also secured the minimum of the
aggregate which was only 154, he becomes eligible; whereas a candidate who got 231
in the aggregate but does not get the minimum cut off marks in one of the
subjects (as for example the first appellant who got only 52 which is less than
the cut off of 55), naturally cannot be qualified.
Even in standard traditional
examinations, if total maximum marks was 600 (in six subjects) and minimum
marks in each of the six subjects was 35 out of 100, a candidate who may secure
482 marks (that 90% in five subjects, but secures only 32 marks in one subject,
will be considered as failed, whereas a person who secures only 210 marks (that
is 35 marks in all the six subjects) will be considered as passed. Where minimum
performance in all the subjects is also relevant, a person who fails to get the
minimum cut off marks in one subject cannot contend that he had secured very high
marks in other two subjects and therefore injustice has been done. All procedures
when standardized, result in some kind of injustice to some or the others. That
cannot be helped.
next complaint was about the procedure adopted based on variable cut-offs instead
of pre-declared fixed cut-offs. Where a huge number of candidates (more than 287,000)
have participated in an examination, for filling about 5500 seats, and it
becomes necessary to select candidates possessing comparatively better
proficiency in all three subjects, the traditional methods of short-listing may
not be of assistance. The 24traditional methods would result in the candidates
who have done extremely well in one subject or two subjects but have little or
no proficiency in the third subject to steal a march over candidates who have
done uniformly well in all the three subjects.
For example, in the
traditional method where 40% are the minimum marks required to be scored in
each subject, a candidate who just gets 40% in Maths and 40% in Physics and 91%
in Chemistry, would be eligible and as his total marks are 171, will get admitted
in preference to a candidate who did uniformly well and secured 52 marks in
Maths, 53 marks in Physics and 65 marks in Chemistry whose total is 170 marks.
The result is that a candidate who is comparatively poor in Maths and Physics,
secures a seat by virtue of his good performance in Chemistry, in preference to
a candidate who has done uniformly well in all subjects.
procedure may not therefore help in securing candidates who do well in all subjects.
If one has to choose the candidates with good performances in all subjects,
with the average of the performance of all the candidates who participated in a
given examination as the benchmark, it is necessary to apply the more complicated
mean and standard deviation methods. Let us take another illustration. Assume
that Maths was a very tough subject and many would have failed if 40% was to be
the minimum marks to pass in the examination. Candidates who secured 38% or 39%
in Maths will fail, though their performance in Maths was reasonable and even
if they had secured 70% in both Physics and Chemistry.
By adopting mean and standard
deviation methods, the Board does not start with a set of uniform minimum
passing marks but arrives at different minimum marks for different subjects, depending
upon the overall performance of all candidates in a given subject, and enables selection
of those who have done comparatively and uniformly well in all subjects. That
is how, for example, JEE-2006, the cut-off marks were arrived at 37, 48 and 55
for Maths, Physics and Chemistry. This method ensured that those who have done
reasonably well in Maths, when compared with the overall majority, got selected
in spite of the fact that if the minimum marks had been prescribed as 40%, they
would have failed.
It enabled candidates
who got good marks in Physics and Chemistry (Say 80%) but got only 38% or 39% in
Maths, to get selected, in preference to a candidate who secured a mere 40% in
all three subjects. In the traditional method, the candidate with 39%, 80% and
90% would have been unsuccessful and person with 40%, 40% and 40% would have
been successful. The cut-off marks in Maths being fixed at 37% (instead of the traditional
minimum of 40%) enabled the students who have done better in other streams to have
a reasonable chance of getting admitted. The procedure though complicated, sought
to achieve a more balanced selection when compared to the traditional methods. It
was neither arbitrary nor capricious.
appellants next contended that different versions of the procedure adopted for
arriving at the cut-off marks was given at different stages, and this made the
entire exercise doubtful. On a careful examination we find that what were given
were not different versions, but better or more detailed disclosure of the same
process or procedure. Apparently the Board was not initially willing to
disclose the entire process. The RTI Act had just come into force and the apparent
tendency initially was to give the minimum information. Subsequently when pressed,
the Board has come out with complete disclosure of the process adopted.
is true that the procedure for ranking by IIT-JEE has not been uniform. Some
years, variable cut-off marks were adopted and some years fixed minimum marks
were adopted. In JEE 2000 and JEE 2001, there was independent cut off for each subject
and also for the aggregate, as in JEE 2006. In JEE 2004, the qualifying
criteria and the ranks in the screening tests were based on the total marks
scored and there were no individual subject cut off marks.
A common merit list
was prepared based on the performance in individual subjects as well as
aggregate in the main examination. In JEE 2005, the qualifying criteria and the
ranks in the screening tests were based on the total marks scored and there
were no individual subject cut off marks. In JEE 2006 there were independent
cut off marks for each subject and also for the aggregate, and the cut off
procedure was not disclosed before the JEE examination. However in JEE 2007 and
JEE 2008 subject cut off procedure was made available to the public through the
JEE website before the JEE examination.
During JEE 2007, the
subjects cut off were determined on the basis that top 80% candidates qualified
in each subject (that is 1, 4 and 3 in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and
aggregate cut off was 206). During JEE 2008, the subject cut off was 5, 0 and 3
in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and aggregate cut off for common merit
list was 172. The subject cut off procedure ensured the number of candidates
above each subject cut off were exactly the same.
In the year 2009 the
subject cut off for General category was 11, 8 and 11 for Mathematics, Physics
and Chemistry (out of 160 each) and the aggregate cut off was 178. The cut off
marks (that is the minimum qualifying marks for ranking (MQMR) is arrived at by
computing the average of the marks secured by all the candidates for each of
the three subjects. In the year 2010 also the subject cut off were based on the
average of the marks secured by all candidates in each subject. This would show
that there is a gradual evolution in the process of standardizing ranking,
leading to improvement and stabilization of the procedure.
may note that even now many feel that the current pattern of IIT-Joint Entrance
Examination, has failed to ensure the selection of best among the aspirants. They
feel that that coaching classes have given several candidates of limited
ability an edge over others, by training them to answer the multiple choice
questions and get through, thereby blocking the chances of better candidates with
deeper understanding of concepts and analytical skills required for a course of
study at IITs.
They also suggest
that weightage should be given to class XII marks, in selection to IITs, so
that the coaching class culture is discouraged. On the other hand coaching
centres contend that the improve the skills of the candidates and make them ready
for the undergoing the tough course. There are those who are satisfied with the
existing system and those who find several faults with it. All that can be said
is that the selection process requires to be upgraded and fine tuned year after
year with periodic changes in the process, so that the selection process and
examination remain relevant and meaningful. But all aspects connected with the process
are technical falling within the purview of the professional experts in charge
and the role of the courts is very limited.
procedure adopted in JEE 2006 may not be the best of procedures, nor as sound
and effective as the present procedures. In fact the action taken by the appellants
in challenging the procedure for JEE 2006, their attempts to bring in transparency
in the procedure by various RTI applications, and the debate generated by the
several views of experts during the course of the writ proceedings, have helped
in making the merit ranking process more transparent and accurate.
IITs and the candidates
who now participate in the examinations must, to a certain extent, thank the
appellants for their effort in bringing such transparency and accuracy in the ranking
procedure. But there is no ground for that Courts to interfere with the
procedure, even if it was not accurate or efficient, in the absence of
malafides or arbitrariness or violation of law. It is true that if in JEE 2006,
a different or better process had been adopted, or the process now in vogue had
been adopted, the results would have been different and the first appellant
might have obtained a seat. But on that ground it is not possible to impute malafides
or arbitrariness, or grant any relief to the first appellant. Therefore, the
appellant will have to be satisfied in being one of the many unsung heroes who
helped in improving the system.
find no reason for interfering with the order of the High Court. The appeal is
(R V Raveendran)
(A K Patnaik)