Summary Adjudication under Article 226 of the Constitution does not cover question of forgery, fraud and tampering: Delhi High Court

Question of forgery, fraud and tampering require sufficient evidence and are not capable for summary adjudication under Article 226 of the Constitution. The Delhi High Court presided over by J. P. Jalan in the case of Gaurav Jaiswal through his legal guardian Vs. Union of India & Anr., [W.P.(C) 6838/2020].

The brief facts of the case are that the petitioner is an Indian Institute of Technology (“IIT”) aspirant and had appeared for the and appeared for the Joint Entrance Examinations (“JEE”) Mains conducted by the National Testing Agency (“NTA”) in January 2020 and September 2020. The Petitioner contended that the JEE (Main) final marksheet released in September 2020 wrongly included his percentile he attained in the examination conducted in the month of January 2020. The petitioner annexed the print-out of his scoresheet which included his marks of January 2020 and stated is percentile as 9808102888. But the in second edition of JEE Mains in September 2020, the combined scoresheet contained a reduced percentile of 51.8105888.

The NTA opposed the petition stating that the scoresheet attached in the petition was a forged one and produced the actual copy of the scoresheet in which the Petitioner had obtained a percentile of 51.8105888, this was verified and supported by the National Informatics Centre. Further, the NTA stated that if the Petitioner obtained a 98 percentile in his January 2020 examination’s he would have been assured of his eligibility in JEE (Advance) and he would have not tried his luck again in September 2020 examination.

The Court dismissed the petition on the grounds that the Petitioner had not downloaded and submitted the January’s OMR sheet and on the basis of this it is not possible for the Petitioner to prove the NTA’s stand incorrect. Hence the court stated that, “I am of the view that this is a matter entirely dependent on an adjudication of disputed questions of fact and unsuitable for determination in writ proceedings.”

The Court further stated that, “Just because something can be done in an appropriate case does not mean it must be done in every case – there are cases where the factual disputes raised may be appropriate for adjudication under Article 226, but that is an exceptional position and not the general rule. This is clear enough from the opening sentence of paragraph 11 of Popatrao….” Lastly, concluding on the point that the case did not fall within the exception stated by the Supreme Court in the case of Popatrao, the court remarked that, “…the NTA has certainly raised a credible doubt as to the genuineness of the scoresheet at page 23 of the writ petition. The technical agency responsible, the NIC, has looked into the matter and supported its stand. The NTA cannot be said, in these circumstances, to have acted unreasonably or arbitrarily. The questions of forgery, fraud and tampering raised in present case would require elaborate evidence, and are not capable of summary adjudication under Article 226 of the Constitution.”  

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