SRINAGAR: The J&K Board of School Education (JKBOSE) has denied information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act on ‘grace marks’ awarded to candidates taking the Class 10 and 12 annual examinations over the years, giving rise to speculation about the board possibly ‘manipulating’ and ‘inflating’ the annual examination results.
Gulzar Ahmad Wani, a social activist from North Kashmir’s Tangmarg area, had filed a RTI application at JKBOSE in March, seeking information about the grace marks the board had awarded to candidates of the Class 10 and 12 regular examinations.
Wani had asked the board about the pass percentage of the two classes’ annual examinations before and after awarding grace marks for the last five years.
However, the JKBOSE, in its reply made in May to the RTI application and seen by Kashmir Reader, has told Wani that the disclosure of the information sought was “not in larger public interest”.
The board has cited clauses ‘e’ and ‘f’ of Section 8 of the J&K RTI Act 2009, which exempt organisations from disclosing information under certain circumstances.
The board has even said that disclosure of the information sought “would endanger the life or physical safety of any person and the same may also create conflicts and law and order problems also, which may hamper the smooth functioning of the board…
“In addition to this, the disappointed candidates may also go to the courts in unending litigation, which will not be in the interest of the board,” the JKBOSE has said in the RTI reply.
Over the board’s denial of information about grace marks awarded to candidates, Wani alleged that the board had “admitted that it was playing with the careers” of the candidates of the Class 10 and 12 annual examinations.
“So, does it mean that results over the years had been manipulated (by awarding grace marks)?” he asked.
B A Dar, who has held key positions at the JKBOSE and who has authored the JKBOSE statutes, said that the board’s reply to the RTI application was “laughable”.
Dar said that the grace marks were interchangeably called ‘statutory marks’ and are recommended in the regulation book.
“Once it is on the regulation book, there is nothing hidden in it,” he added.
“If the board has awarded the statutory marks beyond the cap of six marks to show inflated results, they need to be questioned,” Dar asserted.
“A few years back, they (JKBOSE) created havoc with the results when they awarded marks to students which they were not even entitled to. If they have done it, they have erred, they are answerable. If they have themselves created marks, they should answer that,” he added.
“These are two things. One is to inflate results, and other is awarding statutory marks, which cannot be challenged”.
A JKBOSE insider asked why the grace marks were awarded at all.
“Why does the board need to award grace marks? We don’t know who is on merit. While statutory marks which can save an academic year of a student’s career, are valid as per law, grace marks are awarded randomly by the board,” he said.
“Do we award grace marks to inflate the pass percentage to deceive people? What is the logic behind it? Why don’t we bring forth the actual result, the actual pass percentage?” asked the board insider.
The insider said that going by the board’s reply to the RTI application “it seems that the board is in the practice of awarding grace marks regularly”.
“They have inadvertently admitted it. It gives a clear indication that this practice is in vogue,” he alleged.
Chairperson JKBOSE Veena Pandita said that they awarded grace marks “when the difficulty level of a certain question paper is high”. She ruled out that awarding grace marks manipulated the pass percentage.
Against statutory marks, which are awarded to particular students, Pandita said that “grace marks are given to all the students. Every student is benefitted”.
On the denial of information sought under the RTI application, she said, “There are certain secrets which I am keeping with me. If we have to be at par with students of national level, then we have to take hardworking students to that level so that they are benefitted by admissions at national level. This does not mean we unnecessarily pass students.”
“There are certain policies which are not discussed in public domain,” she added.
“There is certain information, disclosure of which has more disadvantages than advantages.”