The Supreme Court on Monday lifted the stay on admissions and counselling for the 2017 batch at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) based on the current IIT-JEE rankings, paving the way for more than 50,000 aspirants.
A bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra, AM Khanwilkar and MM Shantanagouder then issued a warning to the IIT authorities that such "kinds of errors in printing and framing of questions should not happen again."
"IITs will have to give an undertaking and develop a mechanism that such mistakes will not recur and ensure that no such situation arises in which bonus marks will have to be awarded to all the students," the bench said.
While referring to the 2005 verdict in Gurunanak Dev University case, the Supreme Court observed that the same principles could not be applied since then only 10,000 students were involved in it, whereas in the present case more than 1.56 lakh students attempted the IIT entrance exams.
After carefully studying the 2005 verdict, it was found that no negative marking was involved, while in the present case negative marks were given to the students for submitting wrong answers.
The apex court said it would adjudicate the points of law at a later stage, though as an interim measure it would vacate the stay imposed on the admissions.
On July 7, the apex court had stalled the IIT counselling and admission process for the current academic year acting on an appeal that sought the rectification of the All India Ranking list after bonus marks were given to all candidates who appeared for the examinations.
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.
According to the petition, which was filed by two aspirants, the ranking of at least 20,000 aspirants were affected by awarding them the bonus marks. The candidates challenged the grace marks awarded to students who had not even attempted the objectionable questions claiming it to be arbitrary and a violation of the rights of those who successfully attempted them. They further claimed that their ranking was hit because of the bonus marks awarded which would severely affect their chances of getting admission into a college of their choice.
"Due to the distribution of bonus marks, nearly 20,000 students, who were not deserving, qualified the cut-off... this has adversely affected several meritorious students... Even a difference of one mark may lead to the falling of a candidate's rank by 1000 to 2000,? the petition said.
However, Advocate General KK Venugopal had argued that sifting through the entire list of candidates to check who attempted the questions and who didn?t and rewarding points accordingly would be a labyrinthine task.
More than 50,000 aspirants were considered for counselling after taking the exams. IITs clarified that 33,307 students have taken admission and deposited their fees. Classes are set to begin on July 19 and now, only 31 seats in the general category are left.