No doubt hopes of students have shattered-Delhi High Court dismisses writ against CA results expresses concern over circulation of maessages on whatsapp/facebook without any authenticity.
ABCAUS Case Law Citation:
ABCAUS 2196 (2018) (02) HC
Important Case Laws Cited/relied upon by the parties:
Sethi Auto Service Station and another v. Delhi Development Authority and others (2009) 1 SCC
Brief Facts of the Case:
The petitioners in the instant case were students who had appeared in the Chartered Accountants Final Examination conducted by the ICAI in November 2017. The said students were declared failed in their respective Groups in the results published at the website of ICAI.
However, earlier, as per notification declaring the result of the examination circulated by the ICAI to the its Regional Councils/Branches all the students had passed in respective Group. It was the submission of the students that upon getting the information through message on whatsapp and facebook, they had cross verified it with respective branches of the respondent Institute and were informed that the exam notification being circulated on whatsapp/facebook showing the petitioners as having passed in their respective groups was correct.
The students had alleged that after the issuance of initial notification dated 17.01.2018, in which they were declared passed, the ICAI had sent another email on 18.01.2018 to all its centers and branches with a revised result termed as “correct result notification‟.
It was the case of the students that the result could not have been changed after the de codification and issuance of notification dated 17.01.2018 which had been duly circulated to all its branches, centres, members and office bearers and that too with an endorsement that the same was for “general information‟
The students relied on the press release dated 19.01.2018 issued by the ICAI wherein, it was stated that some mismatch had occurred in the file containing the list of successful candidates. According to the students it was a case of changing the result without following the procedure prescribed under Regulation 39(7) of the Regulations.
It was contended that Regulation 39 is a complete code dealing with the subject “Examination of Results” and the action of changing the result after it had been notified without giving any opportunity of hearing to the Petitioner and without following the procedure prescribed therein was not only arbitrary illegal and violative of principles of natural justice but also in breach of the regulations itself.
It was contended that students had reliably learnt that after granting grace marks to the students in accordance with the Regulations, the results had been decodified and duly communicated to the branches, centers, members and office bearers of the Respondent. In view of the above, the power of tinkering with the result by way of moderation or otherwise, was not at all available to ICAI, once the same had been decodified.
Also, it was submitted that despite repeated requests made by the students, the ICAI had not disclosed the criteria adopted for moderation of the results, which leads to uncertainty for the students and the public at large. A direction to the ICAI was sought to disclose the standard criteria used for moderation.
Observations made by the High Court:
According to the Hon’ble High Court the question to be considered was whether the alleged notification was ever published on any of the websites of the respondent or in any manner communicated to the petitioners.
The Hon’ble High Court observed that merely because the alleged notification contained the term “published for general information‟ it cannot lead to the conclusion that the said notification was actually published especially in view of the categoric statement by the Institute that the said alleged notification was never published in any manner. The petitioners could not demonstrate the manner in which the said alleged notification was published except that the same was circulated on whatsapp/facebook.
The Hon’ble High Court found force in the submission of the ICAI that since the alleged notification was sent only to their branches, centres and members, it was evident that the same was merely an internal communication in which subsequently certain mismatches were noticed and, therefore, when the final result was declared. The mismatches were rectified and only the correct result was published on the websites much before the circulation of the whatsapp messages containing the alleged notification. The Institute had only published the correct result and, therefore, no reliance can be placed on the alleged notification in which the petitioners claimed to have been declared as successful.
The Hon’ble High Court opined that in view of the categoric stand of the Institute that only one result was published and that too on the three websites of the Institute, it was evident that there has been no change of any kind in the result published by the institute and in these circumstances the provisions of Regulation 39(7) were not at all attracted as the said regulation would be applicable only where the result already published is subsequently sought to be amended in any manner. It is only in a case where the published result is sought to be altered or amended and the same adversely affects a candidate has to be given an opportunity of being heard.
Her Lordship opined that there has not been any amendment of the result and on the other hand it was crystal clear that the result was published only once on the website which result is the final result and there has been no attempt on the part of the respondent to alter the said result, there can be no question of the requirement to follow the procedure prescribed under Regulation 39(7).
The Hon’ble High Court also found no merit in the plea raised to direct ICAI to disclose the criteria, if any, employed by it, for carrying out moderation in the results. It was observed that Regulation 39(2) in itself shows that the council has been granted a discretion to revise the marks obtained by the candidates in any particular paper/papers or aggregate, as may be considered necessary for maintaining the standards of passed percentage.
Her Lordship expressed her anguish at the manner in which the whatsapp and facebook posts are being circulated without any sense of responsibility. The Hon’ble High Court observed that no doubt, the hopes of some students had been shattered, but unfortunately for them while the Court can only express its concern over the manner in which communications are circulated on whatsapp/facebook without any authenticity of the source thereof, the legal position does not in any manner support the petitioners who were, admittedly, found unsuccessful as per the official results declared by the respondent. It may also be noted that there is no challenge by any of the petitioners to the manner of marking used in the examination and the only ground raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners during arguments is that perhaps the petitioners were initially granted more grade marks which were then subsequently reduced. This unfortunately cannot be a ground to interfere with the final results published by the respondent on its websites.