Madras HC order awarding 196 grace marks to NEET Tamil students

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The Supreme Court has set aside the order after months the Madras High Court ordered the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to award 196 grace marks for students who had attempted National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2018 in Tamil.

Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao said in their verdict, “Because of a mistake in translation which could have been detected and avoided by the students, we find it unjust that all the students across the board who took the examination in Tamil have been awarded four marks for all the 49 questions without any reference to the answer of those questions.” In what is sure to come as a disappointment for many students who took the examination.

24,000 Tamil medium students wrote NEET in 2018 and the cut off this year was 119 for students from the general category, and 96 for SC, ST and OBC students. With the grace marks added, many Tamil medium students had become eligible for government institutes.

The verdict further observed, “The list of students who opted to give the NEET-UG, 2018 Examination in Tamil after the addition of 196 marks is startling. For instance, a student who got 260 marks has been awarded a total of 456 marks. A student with 137 marks becomes entitled to 333 marks and the student who got 92 marks becomes entitled to 288 marks. Even students who have 21 marks been entitled to 217 marks. It is clear that the High Court lost sight of the primary duty of Court in such matter that is to avoid arbitrary results.”

On July 10, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court arrived at the decision to award 196 grace marks after noting that 49 questions in the Tamil language paper had been erroneously printed. The Madras HC directed the CBSE to publish a new rank list based on its order. The petitioner, CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP TK Rangarajan requested the court to either award 196 grace marks to the students or conduct admissions based on Class 12 marks.

However, days after the Madras HC verdict, the SC had ordered the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to continue the second round of counselling for medical admissions in Tamil Nadu.