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The Delhi high court on Tuesday directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to implement its moderation policy, which allows the provision of grace marks to students for difficult questions, for the time being.

In April, many students awaiting the Class 10 and 12 exam results were taken aback by a decision by the board to scrap its moderation policy with immediate effect. They feared a dip in percentage if no grace marks were awarded for difficult questions.

The academic prospects of 11 lakh Class 12 students and nine lakh Class 10 students hinged on this development.

A bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice Pratibha M Singh directed the CBSE to continue with the moderation policy that was in place when the examination forms were submitted last year. “A person taking the examination needs to be put on notice (about the decision to scrap the policy). Do it next year,” the bench said, adding that the board “cannot change the rules after the game has begun”.

The court said the sudden implementation of such a decision would put students through considerable trauma. “Children have a right to know what you are doing. Probably they are under more stress. Don’t instill insecurity,” it told the CBSE counsel.

The court was hearing a petition objecting to the manner in which the policy was changed after the examinations were conducted. Senior advocate Balbir Singh, who appeared for the petitioners, said the move could result in a marks reduction of at least 15% — thereby robbing many students of the opportunity to meet the Delhi University‚Äôs cut-off.

Besides this, Singh claimed the change in moderation policy could have a “drastic effect” on the fate of students who have already secured admission in foreign universities, and taken loans in this regard. He also pointed at how students from certain states would fare better than those from others – including Delhi – because they have decided to implement the policy change only from next year.

Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, who appeared on the CBSE’s behalf, said the policy was scrapped to remove arbitrariness and inflation of marks in board examination results. The court, however, clarified that it was only concerned about the implementation of the moderation policy for this year – not the merits of the board’s decision as a whole.


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