New Delhi: In a verdict that will affect nearly 6.3 lakh students, the Supreme Court today cancelled the All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Entrance Test (AIPMT) 2015 and ordered a fresh test within four weeks saying that the examination has become a "suspect" and there "cannot be any compromise at any cost".
A vacation bench of justices R K Agrawal and Amitava Roy said that although the re-conduct of the examination would consume time and cause inconvenience but to maintain the "impeccable and irrefutable" credibility of examination "this is the price, the stakeholders would have to suffer".
"We are not unaware that in holding the present examination as well as in participating in the exercise, all genuinely concerned have put in tireless efforts. All these however have been rendered futile by a handful of elements seeking to reap undue financial gain by subjecting the process to their evil manoeuvres.
"We have thus no hesitation to order that the All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Test stands cancelled. CBSE would now have to hold a fresh examination at the earliest... We direct the Board, in the attendant of facts and circumstances to hold the examination within a period of four weeks from today," the bench said.
The apex court rejected CBSE's contention that the examination cannot be re-conducted in less than four months and held that the Board ought to "gear up" in full to hold the examination afresh at the earliest. "In view of the widespread network, that has operated, as the status reports disclose and the admission of the persons arrested including some beneficiary candidates, we are of the opinion, in view of the strong possibilities of identification of other candidates as well involved in such malpractices, that the examination has become a suspect.
"It is thus necessary, for all the role players in the process, to secure and sustain the confidence of the public in general and the student fraternity in particular in the system by its unquestionable trustworthiness. Such a system is endorsed because of its credibility informed with guarantee of fairness, transparency authenticity and sanctity. There cannot be any compromise with these imperatives at any cost," the bench said.
It also directed the investigating agency (Haryana Police) to complete its probe in the case with all "alacrity and earnestness" in accordance with law. The vacation bench, in its 41-page-judgement, said that the investigation reveals that 44 candidates have been found to be confirmed beneficiaries of this "unprincipled manoeuvre" but their "segregation" by withholding their results for the time being cannot be the solution to the problem.
The court further held that the examination stands "denuded of its sanctity" and keeping in view that the course would yield future generations of doctors of the country, who would be in charge of public health, "their inherent merit to qualify for taking the course can by no means be compromised".
"We are conscious of the fact that every examination being conducted by a human agency is likely to suffer from some shortcomings, but deliberate inroads into its framework of the magnitude and the nature, as exhibited, demonstrate a deep seated and pervasive impact, which ought not to be disregarded or glossed over, lest it may amount to travesty of a proclaimed mechanism to impartially judge the comparative merit of the candidates partaking therein.
"If such an examination is saved, merit would be a casualty generating a sense of frustration in the genuine students, with aversion to the concept of examination. The possibility of leaning towards unfair means may also be the ultimate fall out.
Even if, one undeserving candidate, a beneficiary of such illegal machination, though undetected is retained in the process it would be in denial of, the claim of more deserving candidates," it said.
The court said that "endeavours" should be made to minimise the delay after the examination is held afresh as directed.
"We part with the expectation that CBSE and the other stakeholder institutions would act in the right spirit in complying with this order for the paramountcy and trustworthiness of the system as well as the sustenance of the confidence that it enjoys.
"We all owe this, in the minimum, to the society in general and the student community in particular," the bench said.