Delhi HC Directs NBE to Award Extra Mark to Erroneous Question in December 2020 FMGE
5th July 2021, the Delhi High Court in Association of MD Physicians vs National Board of Examination (CWP no. 918 of 2021) directed the respondent, National Board of Examination (NBE) to treat an erroneous question which appeared in the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE), conducted in December 2020, as deleted and to award an extra mark to candidates who were assessed as having given an incorrect answer to the disputed question.
The Single Judge Bench of Justice Prateek Jalan observed:
“…the petitioner has discharged the onerous burden of showing that the answer stipulated by the NBE was patently incorrect. The error requires no detailed analysis or inferential reasoning to discern; it becomes clear upon a mere reference to the undisputed and authoritative materials placed on record.”
Every foreign medical graduate has to take a screening test, FMGE in order to register with the National Medical Commission (NMC). This MCQ test comprises of 300 questions, out of which 150 questions are required to be answered correctly by a candidate. The FMGE (December 2020) was conducted on 4th December 2020. After declaration of the results, the petitioner made a representation to the respondent that one of the questions which appeared in the said test was “technically incorrect”, to which the respondent said that the results were reviewed by experts and were thus final.
Aggrieved, the petitioner association, which consists of Indian citizens with medical degrees from foreign Universities filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court seeking a direction to the respondent NBE to grant one additional mark against the erroneous question.
With respect to jurisdiction in cases where correctness of the key answers is challenged, after perusing various case laws, the court observed:
“…none of the judgments cited prohibit judicial review altogether. They do leave open a window for challenge, albeit a very small one, in the event that the candidate discharges the onus of showing that a question is patently erroneous.”
The disputed question states as follows-
“Sample Registration System gives information about all except:
- Birth rate
- Death rate
- Maternal Mortality rate
- Infant mortality rate”
The Sample Registration System (SRS) is a system established by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (RGI) under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
The petitioner relied on RGI communications dated 18th January 2021 and 3rd February 2021, press release dated 18th August 2020 issued by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, press release dated 12th February 2021 issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and on the “Special Bulletin on Maternal Mortality in India 2010-12” published by the SRS, to prove that the SRS includes information on all the four options, Birth rate, Death rate, Infant mortality rate as well as the Maternal Mortality rate, which the respondent claimed not to be included in the SRS.
The court observed that if the question is treated as a zero-mark question, then it would be prejudicial against the candidates who chose the answer deemed correct by the NBE. So, the court held that an extra mark must be awarded to the candidates who were assessed as having given an incorrect answer to the disputed question.
In conclusion, the Delhi High Court allowed the writ petition, directed the respondent to treat the disputed question from the FMGE (December 2020) as deleted and to award an extra mark to candidates who were assessed as having answered the disputed question incorrectly.
Ankitha Subramanya | EduLegaL