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SC stays counselling and admission in IITs over bonus marks system in JEE

The Supreme Court on Friday found faults in IIT’s decision to award 18 bonus marks to students for wrong and vague questions in the Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced) paper and stayed the ongoing counselling and admission in IITs, NIITs, IIITs and all government-funded engineering colleges.

The apex court’s decision comes at a time when 33,000 candidates have already taken admissions in various IITs across the country.

As the next counselling session is to start from Monday, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar restrained all engineering colleges from inducting students till the controversy over the bonus marks was adjudicated by it.

The bench is examining IIT’s decision to award 18 bonus marks to all the candidates (11 marks for incorrect questions in Paper II and 7 marks for incorrect questions in Paper I) irrespective of whether they attempted the said questions or not.

Questioning the validity of the decision, the bench said that the apex court had in 2005 held that bonus marks for wrong questions could be given to only those students who attempted the question.

On June 4, when the answer key to the question paper was released, objections were raised over some questions in Paper I and Paper II that led to IIT-Madras — which held this year’s exams, awarding a total of 18 marks to all candidates appearing for the examination.

The petition, filed by two aspirants challenged the grace marks awarded to students who had not even attempted the seven questions, claiming it to be arbitrary and in violation of the rights of those who successfully attempted the particular questions. The candidates — who cleared the exams — suggested a revision of the rank list. They claimed that their ranking was hit because of the bonus marks awarded which would severely affect their chances in getting admission at a college of their choice.

The bench had agreed to examine plea of two students who challenged IIT’s decision. The bench also restrained high court from entertaining any petition on the issue and posted the case to July 10 to pass order after examining all options to solve the problem.

“It is a problem and it has to be solved at the earliest … We will think about the solution but don’t create further confusion by giving admission,” the bench said.

Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for IIT, ruled out re-evaluation of answer papers saying it was not possible as 2.5 lakh students had taken the examination.

He said that two wrong questions were there in only one out of ten sets of question papers which was in Hindi Medium and it was impossible to find out students who opted to take entrance examination in Hindi. He said that there was only two practical options available — either to continue with the bonus marks or to strike out the wrong questions.

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