Karnataka High Court comes to rescue of class 12 student who carried phone inside exam hall

CBSE had asked her to reappear for biology paper; board directed to declare result.

Observing that “a tender age student, even when delinquency is established, cannot be treated as an offender of the war crime,” the Karnataka High Court has directed the CBSE to immediately announce the result of a student of class 12, who was asked to reappear for an exam in one of the subjects without announcing the result for carrying a mobile phone inside the examination hall on March 14.

Justice Krishna S. Dixit passed the order while allowing a petition filed by Shuchi Mishra, who had appeared for CBSE Class 12 main examinations in Bengaluru. The court directed the CBSE to immediately announce the results of biology subject.

The court, from the records, found that the petitioner had inadvertently carried mobile phone inside the exam hall and had handed it over to the invigilator just before commencement of the exam, but the CBSE had treated her case as “unfair means” for “using mobile phone during examination.”

“The student’s assertion that she had deposited the mobile at 9.55 a.m., that is prior to commencement of examination, to the centre invigilator becomes evident by the fact that it was sent to her school, which was in turn delivered it back to her after examination and on the same day,” the court observed.

The court also noted the CBSE committee had not made any effort to view video footages of the exam hall as every hall was under electronic surveillance and had denied personal hearing to the student.


Pointing out that there was no allegation that the petitioner had clandestinely stored the examination material in the said phone for making “unfair use” of the same, the court said, “though a student is expected not to carry such instrument into the exam hall but human fallibility, more particularly in case of children going to exam with associated anxiety needs to be kept in mind as an extreme penalty cancelling exam violates the rule of proportionality and it shakes the consciousness of the court, to say the least.”

Observing that “tender minds, even when they commit significant mistakes, cannot be treated with iron gloves”, the court said that “one cannot be oblivious to the anxiety of the students and their parents during the crucial examination of the kind, especially during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic; carrying mobile phone instrument during such difficult periods by anyone admits rationalisation. Even in court halls, mobile phones of counsel ring often loudly despite repeated instructions to keep them in idle mode; that is not a case of serious culpability; an argument to the contrary would be abhorrent to notions of reasons and justice.”

As the petitioner became ineligible to take compartment exam owing to non-declaration of result in biology subject coupled with her failure in maths subject, the court directed the CBSE to announce result in biology and organise necessary exam for her, if eligible otherwise, in same syllabi by December 31.

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Sagar Biswas

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