Making students repeat all exams for failing in one paper unreasonable

Representative image.

Making students who fail in one theory or practical exam to reappear for all the examinations once again is unreasonable and arbitrary, the Kerala high court said on Thursday. Such practice would only result in unfairness to the extreme and doesn’t help in achieving higher quality, the court said.

Medical and engineering students having to give up their hopes of obtaining a graduation, or losing multiple years in pursuit of the dream, has become a common scene across the state owing to the insistence of universities that students should reappear for all the examinations if they fail in one of the exams.

The practice was sharply criticized by Justice V Chitambaresh after considering a total of 11 petitions filed by post-graduate medical students, Geethu S and others, questioning the insistence of Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS). The students had challenged a clause in KUHS Regulations that stipulated that the students must write all the examinations once again if they fail in one of the examinations or practicals.

 Through the petitions, the students had also pointed out that while KUHS Regulations requires a student to achieve a minimum of 50 per cent marks in total and a separate minimum of 40 per cent in each examination, Medical Council of India (MCI) Regulations require them to achieve 50 per cent marks in total and doesn’t specify a separate minimum for each paper. Thus, KUHS Regulations is contrary to MCI Regulations, the petitioners had contended.
 The court said in the judgment, “Repetitive undertaking of examinations after having secured the minimum prescribed does not scale up the standard and can only be termed as oppressive from the point of view of the student. The repetitive appearance in examinations under the KUHS Regulations has no rationale nexus with the object sought to be achieved and is obviously violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India (equality before law).”

“The mental anguish which a student has to face in the event of his losing a theory or practical by marginal marks necessitating reappearance for all the papers in theory and practical in order to secure a pass is unimaginable. It is possible that a candidate who has passed in the first attempt may fail in the same examination in the second attempt and the vicious circle of pass and fail will only result in unfairness to the extreme. Clause 3.16 of the KUHS Regulations to the extent it insists that ‘a candidate who fails in one subject either theory/practical shall have to appear for all the papers including theory and practical’ is unreasonable and arbitrary,” the court further said.

 Disposing the petitions, by ruling that KUHS Regulations is not valid as it was not notified in the gazette when the university statue (KUHS First Statutes, 2013) came into being, the court directed MCI to clarify whether the students should simultaneously pass in all papers and asked MCI to advise the university within four months so that it can be incorporated into the KUHS Regulations.

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