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Do not force children to pursue subjects against their capabilities and wishes
Rahul Tewari Vs Union of India and Ors
WP 613 of 2018
About/from the judgment:
The High Court reiterated that considerations of equity or misplaced sympathy cannot be cited to bend the academic rules framed by a Board/Council for the smooth functioning of institutions. Moreover, the Court also observed that school students should not be forced to pursue subjects that they are unsuited for, only on the wishes of their parents.
Observations to this effect were made by Justice Shekhar B Saraf while disposing of a petition moved on behalf of a student studying in a school governed by the Council for the Indian School Certificate (ISC) Examinations.
The student before the Court had been erroneously promoted to Class XII by the school, even though he failed to clear his Class XI final exams for the requisite number of subjects under the ISC rules. However, due to this error, the student was denied registration to write the Class XII final exam, despite having attended classes for the same.
Challenging the refusal of the School Board to allow the registration of his name for the Class XII final exam, a petition had been moved before the Calcutta High Court.
However, the Court found that it does not have the power to direct the circumvention of the School Board rules, even as an exception in the interest of equity. Justice Saraf observed,
“Allowing even one student to bypass the rules and regulations would not only undermine the rules and regulations established by the Board but also create confusion in the minds of other students who put in great efforts to secure pass marks so that they are promoted.“
In view of case laws of the Orissa High Court and the Supreme Court on the topic, Justice Saraf also emphasised that the following principles are to be borne in mind when dealing with cases involving the academic rules set by School Boards or Academic Councils.
Rules framed by various examination boards are for the purpose of maintaining academic standards and the same cannot be bent on the whims and fancies of the court.
Bending or bypassing the rules would result in disturbance of the academic system adversely affecting the academic standards.
Principles of equity should not be applied to circumvent the rules and regulations framed by academic institutions for the smooth running of the institutions and for maintenance of the high standards of learning.
A sympathetic approach cannot be a substitute to adherence of the rules and regulations and should not be used as a tool to sidestep and dodge the rules established by the academic institutions.
Justice Saraf further observed that since parents themselves choose the school in which their wards study, they cannot claim ignorance of rules that govern the chosen school.
In view of these observations, the Court declined to grant the relief sought by the student.
However, given the exceptional circumstances before it, the Court directed that the student be given a chance to clear his Class XI exams in February/March this year. If the student is able to clear these exams, the School Board has been directed to allow the student to take his Class XII final exam the next year.
Further liberty was also granted so that the student may move the appropriate authority for payment of compensation.
Before parting with the case, Justice Saraf also took the opportunity to caution against pressurising students to opt for course that they are not suited for. As noted in the order,
“It is seen very often that children are forced to undertake subjects in classes XI and XII solely based on the wishes of the parents. The present case before me is a classic example where the student is obviously weak in the science stream subjects he has undertaken in classes XI and XII.
I am of the view that the schools should counsel the students during/after class X with regard to the subjects they are fit to pursue in class XI and XII and the parents of the children should go with the advice of the school keeping in mind the ability of the children.“
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