Chennakesav Reddi, J.
1. In these cases, the petitioner are all students they have been successful at the Intermediate Examination and are aspirants for higher education - A Degree in Medicine and surgery. They have taken the Entrance Examination for the M.B.B.S. course in the Medical colleges in the state for the Academic year 1982-83.
2. The Board of Examiners. In exercise of it discretion got the answer scrips mechanically valued by way of computers. The petitioners wrongly coded the Roll numbers on the answer scripts in breach of the instructions specifically given to the examinees in that behalf. The computer rejected their answer scripts they, therefore now seek a direction of the Director of Medical Education and Chairman Board of Examiners, Medical Entrance Examination hyderabad to have the answer scripts valued manually and allot seats, if they are eligible in the order of merit. They claim that the manual valuation has been arbitrarily denied by the chairman. Board of Examiners. Although they are legally entitled to for such valuation under R. 14 (b) of the rules for selection of candidates for admission to the 1st year M.B.B.S course in the Medical college in Andhra pradesh state hereinafter called 'the Rules for admission to the Medical course'. Therefore the question that requires determination in these cases relates to the scope and interpretation of R. 14 of the Rules of admission to the medical course R. 14 reads;-
'14. Notification of Marks;-
(a) The marks obtained by the candidtes in the entrance test shall be notified on the notice borads of the respective medical colleges in the order of Roll numbers on the 15 th day after the notification of the results.
(b) Manual Valuation:- If any candidate desires that his answer scribt should be valued manually he/she has to remit a fee of Rs. 400 under the head of account '080 Medical A. Allopathy (a) Tution and other fees for Medical Education and submit challan in original along with an application indicating Roll No. Etc. To the principal of the Medical collleges concerned within 40 days after the notification of the results Fees once paid shall not be refunded under any circumstances. The examination Board shall get the valuation done by one of the senior professors of the medical colleges who is not a member of Examination Board and candidates or their representatives shall have no right to be present at the time of manual valuation'.
3. Before proceeding on a critical examination of the scope of the Rule it is useful and indeed necessary to ascertain the social and moral context in which the Rule was Brought into existence the contextual approach involves treating the law-in-action from a broader base than as was in the normal circumstances. The selection of students for admission to the medical course has posed a problem of varying magnitude and complexity in the state. Therefore the state has to decide its own procedure for selecting the best students from among the eligible applicants the number of students seeking admission to the medical course is nearly 17 times more than the number of seats available in the medical colleges in the state Therefore there has been a search for the good and reliable method of selection. A vigorous search is made in this regard.
4. The common practice for a long time in this state has been to use the marks obtained in the Intermediate Examination rigidly as the sole criterion of merit and the basis of selection for the M.B.B.S course but examination marks were notoriously found to be unreliable for measuring the merit of the applicants. Therefore a better selection method of reliability was thought of and an entrance examination is cndidered as a satisfactory technique of selection. For some time the examination papers were being corrected manually but the manual valuation was again distrusted as there were complaints that the valuation and appraisal were not objective. Public had lost confidence in manual valuation because the manual valuation was susceptible to pressures and pulls from persons who occupied places of position and authority Unless valuation appraisal examination and testing are objective the purpose of such examination is lost valuation is a formidable task. It affects the emotional tilt of the students as well as the examiners. Not only the students depend upon it but also the whole future career depends upon it. So also the promotion or the security of the teacher as well as the happiness and satisfaction. Of the parents also depend upon the valuation.
5. Our entire educational system is conditioned by the evaluation criteria and procedures logically, therefore if the examination system is defective everything else becomes defective as T.H. Huxley pointed out:
'Examinations are necessary evil'. But intrinsically there is nothing evil about them if they are properly conducted and the valuation made is satisfactory and objective'.
6. Then there came the invention of the computer as a greatest contribution towards the satisfactory evaluation and appraisal of examination therefore the Board of Examiners opted for the evaluation of the answer scripts by the computer.
7. To see that the students who are not adolescents and unjusted persons are given written instructions to enable them to have the guidance and manner of answering the questions keeping in view the mechanical valuation by the computer instructions are specifically issued as to the way and the manner in which the answers are to be filled in the answer paper. Along with the instructions, a specimen answer sheet showing how to answer the questions in the anwer sheet was also supplied. In para 3 of the instructions guidance is given as to how the Roll number should be coded in the answer book. Illustration also is given int he instructions as to how the Roll number should be coded in the answer book, it is also mentioned in para 3 in Broad letters that only the pencil supplied in the examination hall must be used for coding the Roll number and for answering'. Thus every care is taken to instruct the examinees to see that the instructions are easily folllowed In addition to the instructions wall posters were also pasted in every examination hall drawing the attention of each student for those instructions in the matter of coding the Roll number and also in answering the the questions Besides the medical authorities had taken pains to issue instrictions illustrating as to how the number is to be coded and also as to how the answers are marked in the answer sheets. An Announcement was made soon after the students assembled in the examination hall and the attention of the students was drawn to the coding of th Roll numbers. In the announcement again instructions were given as to how the Roll number to be coded. The attention of the students was specifically drawn to the fact that if for any reason there is difference in the method followed by the students in coding the number the answer paper would become invalid. In spite of these instructions, the petitioners failed to codify the Roll number correctly in the answer books. It is the admitted case of the petitioners that the Roll Numbers have been wrongly coded by them in the answer sheets. But they plead that the error is accidental and not wilful. As a consequence of the wrong coding. The computer has rejected the answer sheets as the machine could not decipher the roll number But the question is, whether such answer books could be and should be valued manually.
8. Under Cl. (A) of R. 14 of the Rules for admission to the medical course, which has already been extracted above, the marks obtained by the candidate in the Entrance Test Shall be notified on the notice board of the respective medical colleges in the order of Roll nuimbers Cl. (B) provides for manual valuation of the answer scripts. If any candidate desires that his answer script should be valued manually. He/ she has to remit a fee of Rs. 400 under the concerned Head of account and submit the challan in original along with the application indicating the Roll number to the principal of the Medical college concerned within 40 days after the Notification of the results On such payment it is obligatory on the part of the Board of Examiners to have the valuation of the answer scripts done by one of the senior professors of the Medical colleges who is not a member of the Board of Examiners.
9. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner s is that under Sub-rule (b) any candidate who remits a sum of Rs. 400 under the concerned head of account and submits a challan to the principal of the medical college concerned within 40 days after the notification of the results requesting for the valuation of the answer scripts manually is entitled to have the answer scripts so valued. According to the learned counsel. The words If any candidate' in Cl. (B) mean that he can also be a candidate whose answer script is invalidated and is not valued at all by the computer.
10. On the other hand the Government pleader submits that this clause could be invoked only by the candidates who are not satisfied with the mechanical valuation or who have doubted the correctness of the mechanical valuation and the benefit conferred by the clause cannot be invoked by candidates whose papers are not at all valued mechanically and are invalidated if the papers goes the argument of the learned Government pleader could not be valued mechanically it ought not to be valued manually also. In short he submits that the answer sheet which was refused to be valued on the ground of disobedience of the instructions cannot be valued manually also. A reading of Cls. (A) and (b) of R. 14 together - and they ought to be read so. (Shows that) the right to manual valuation cnferred by Cl. (B) could only be invoked by candidates whose marks in the Entrance Test are notified on the notice board. But had some doubts about the correctness of the mechanical valuation having regard to he deep faith that they should have got more marks on the basis of their performance at the Entrance Test. In all these cases. The petitioners admit that they have coded the Roll numbers wrongly. The computer could not decipher the Roll numbers and therefore their answer scripts were not valued at all. So the question of any doubt or defect in mechanical valuation will not arise. Such examinees are not entitled to evoke the provisions to cl. (B) of Rule 14.
11. But still the Court continued to be confronted with the question whether it would be fair and just to totally reject the answer scripts without looking into and evaluating or measuring their merit it is nobody's case that the coding of Roll number was wrongly done intemtionally and with an oblique motive. No doubt there was criticism in the Legislative assembly that some candidates intentionally disobeyed the instructions to have the manual valuation. We would have the manual valuation. We would have undoubtedly rejected. Without any hesitation; the request for manual or mechanical valuation if we were satisfied on the scrutiny of the writ petitions that the candidates intentioally disobeyed the instructions to evade the mechanical valuation. Out of 617 answer books that were invalidated. Only 13 have come before this Court on the ground that their answer books have been invalidated on the ground that they have wrongly codified the Roll Numbers. In W.P. No. 6386 of 1982 it appears, the candidate wrongly coded one of the six digits of the Roll number. In W.P. No. 6758 of 1982 similar is the defect. In other writ petitions the Roll numbers were codified with Ballpoint pen instead of pencil. But the answers to the questions in all these cases were given only in pencil. Therefore there could be no difficulty or defect in the valuation of the answer scripts by the computer despite the mistake in codifving the Roll number.
12. The learned counsel Mr. Vedantha Rao. Submits that the invalidating of the answer sheets. Involving the educational career of young students should have been preceded by a notice and an opportunity to the candidates concerned. And therefore the action is violative of the principles of natural justice we do not think that there is any breach of the principles of natural justice. We do not think that there is any breach of the principles of natural justice in these cases, because the candidates themselves admit the mistake committed by them therefore the question is whether for the wrong committed by them there could be invalidation of the answer sheets. The circumstances under which they committed the error are only to be inferred or imagined.
13. Most of the candidtes are minors they are adolescents who are just at the age of 16 years. The mistakes committed by them are accidental slips or errors. The Roll Number had to be codified immediately before the commencement of the examination. They submit that they even informed the invigilators about the mistakes committed by them and wanted separate answer books but they were assured that their answer books would be valued. It is not simply possible to rule out that these young persons must have committed this accidental error in their anxiety and out of emotional excitement built up in them just before the distribution of the question papers. The matter is one which involves not only the satisfaction and happiness of their parents as well the evaluation of the examination is intended to promote the growth and development of the students the student community or the parents should not be allowed to be affected by the emotional built up of the students just before the examination. The entrance test to be held must be allowed to measure what it purports to measure - ability of the students . a major objective of selection for admission is to secure social justice and to spread the net wide enough to catch all available talent. It is therefore desirable - may necessary - to make some allowance for the accidental slips or errors committed as a result of the handicaps created by the adverse conditions under which some students from rural areas from urban slums and from unprivileged classes have come to take the course. While we do positively feel that the students should follow and obey the instructions issued to them in the matter of answering the questions we do also feel a humanitarian approach is required when the errors committed by required when the errors committed by them are accidental and unintentional.
A Contextual approach involves treating the law in action from a broader base and from its social and moral context. Such a contextual approach will be more realistic than bare exposition of the legal rules. The answers have not been valued at all and we are informed that they can be valued by the computer since the answers have been given only in pencil. But the machine cannot decipher the Roll Number which ahs been incorrectly coded. It is however abundantly clear from the instructions given to the examinees in para 2 that the centre of the Examination and Roll number are also to be filled up by pen at the top of the answer sheet. Therefore no difficulty will be experienced in the identification of the answer script even though the computer cannot decipher though the computer cannot decipher the coded Roll number. The answer scripts it appears have to be sent again to Delhi for valuation but that course is unavoidable the public have no confidence in manual valuation because it is susceptible to pressures and pulls from persons in position and authority in the circumstances we direct the Director. Medical education to have the answer scripts of the petitioners valued by the computer and thereafter identify the answer sheets himself on the basis of the roll number given in pen on the answer sheets. On the bsis of the marks the director will then examine the eligiblity of these petitioners in the order of merit for admission to the First year M.B.B.S. Course for the year 1982-83 and admit such of those whose are entitled for admisiion to the course on the basis of merit.
14. The writ petitions are ordered accordingly. The writ appeals Nos. 844 to 847 of 1982 are partly allowed as indicated above No costs advocate's fee Rs. 150 in each.
15. Order accordingly.