Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Alleging Error in Hindi Translation of NEET-UG 2021 Question Paper
The Supreme Court of India in Wajida Tabassum and Ors vs National Testing Agency and Anr – WP(c) No.1260/2021- dismissed the plea of NEET-UG 2021 candidates alleging translation error in a question in the physics paper from English to Hindi. To arrive at the decision, the court took into consideration expert committee’s observation which denied any error.
The bench consisting of Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice AS Bopanna, and Justice Vikaram Nath held:
The first respondent, which is the agency which was entrusted with the duty of the conduct of the NEET UG 2021, in responding to the apprehension of the students, had the matter scrutinized again by three subject experts. It would not be in the sense open to this court to substitute its own view particularly in an area of Physics. In the circumstances, given our anxious consideration to the subject, we are unable to interfere. The petition is dismissed.
The petitioners through a writ had approached the apex court, seeking direction against the National Testing Agency (NTA) to delete question no. 2- Section A (Physics) wherein while translating the same from English to Hindi, the word “amplitude of current” had been omitted. The petitioners were young aspiring doctors who had appeared for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) UG 2021 and contented that the translation of the word “amplitude of current” in Hindi was different due to which a different answer was given in comparison to the candidates who appeared the question in English.
The counsel submitted that “dhaara” does not refer to “amplitude”. In the Class 12 Physics book, which is the “Bible” for the NEET students, the word used for “amplitude” is “aayam”, she submitted. Further, it was stated that the NTA without considering such a grave error had released the answer key which is disadvantageous for Hindi-speaking candidates. It was also stated by the petitioners that the question paper itself stated that in case of any discrepancy or ambiguity in translation from English to Hindi, the English version shall be treated as final and they would lose 5 marks as negative marking for the question which carries 4 marks.
The bench asked the respondent to examine the question through the expert committee. The Solicitor General said that after due examination of the question by three neutral experts, they concluded that the answer to the question would be the same in both languages. Thereafter, the bench asked for a re-consideration of the said question on 25th November 2021 by another set of experts to which the Solicitor General agreed.
The NTA considering the bench’s advice for re-examining, constituted a committee consisting of 3 experts who are the professors from IIT Gauhati, Delhi Technology University, and National Physical Laboratory for evaluating the solution in both versions of the question. After examination by the expert committee, the Solicitor General communicated that:
All three have concurred that whether we take English or Hindi, the answer remains the same. They said the “dhara” here was of no importance. I don’t like succeeding against students. But in this case experts have opined.
The bench considered the fact that “dhara” had no importance in the said question of physics the petitioners were not entitled to any relief. The bench also added that the question was determined by an expert committee who knows that specific field, therefore, the court cannot interfere with it as it was not a law paper.
When experts have opined then there is no reason for us to interfere. We could have at least seen if it was a law paper. We have to draw the line that is not our remit at all.
Accordingly, the plea of the aspiring doctors who appeared NEET-UG 2021 was disposed of.
Rasmita Behera | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL