The Delhi High Court has directed AIIMS, country’s premier health institution, to compensate an aspiring medical student, who was not allowed to sit in this year’s MBBS entrance examination just because the QR Code in his Aadhar Card could not be scanned at the examination centre in Karnataka.

 Justice Pratibha M Singh asked AIIMS to pay Rs 50,000 to Abhimanyu Bishnoi who had moved high court seeking quashing of the examination narrating how he was turned away from the examination centre in Gulbarga, Karnataka on May 25 with the mandatory admit card, photographs and his original Aadhaar card.

 To his shock, when he produced the Aadhar card for verification at the gate of the examination centre, the staff engaged in the verification process using a mobile phone told him that the QR Code on his card could not be scanned and that his Aadhar Card is not genuine.

Akshay Srivastava, Senior Associate at PSP Legal along with Advocate Prakhar Deep, Associate at Link Legal and Advocate Kaustav Som appearing for the petitioner had told the court that the petitioner was left with no immediate assistance at the examination centre.

It is to be noted here that the UIDAI, in response to a notice issued by the high court, confirmed that the original Aadhaar card of the Petitioner is genuine, that the QR code of the Petitioner’s card is scannable and that it is not clear as to why the QR code was not getting scanned in the phone of the official who attempted to verify the genuinity of it at the examination centre.

Justice Singh took note of the fact that despite the notice, AIIMS did not respond.

While refusing to quash the examination and ordering the same to be conducted afresh, the high court issued a series of guidelines to avoid similar harassment to any other student.

“The present situation could have been easily averted, with some sensitive handling of the issue. There is a need to have clear guidelines during the conduct of such examinations at a National level to deal with issues that arise immediately before, during and after the examination,” said Justice Singh while directing as under:

 (i)AIIMS is directed to, as part of its brochure, provide the manner in which examination centres respond to various situations such as identification documents, medical conditions, discrepancies in admit cards, discrepancies in question papers and manner of marking answers, and the manner of dealing with the same on an immediate basis;

(ii)In future, the controller of examinations of AIIMS shall ensure that a response team is constituted to deal with issues raised on the day of the examination and such a team should also be able to respond immediately in such emergent situations.

(iii) Since the examination is conducted in centres across the country, the heads of Examination centres ought to be given a uniform set of instructions to ensure that students are not made to suffer in this manner.

(iv) If the examinations are conducted online, there ought to be an emergent technical response team to deal with any technical glitches that may arise.

In her order, Justice Singh said, “To turn back a student from an entrance examination centre would result in a fait accompli, as has happened in the present case, which has to be avoided under all circumstances. In view of the non-responsive attitude of AIIMS, both to the candidate’s representation and before this Court, the Petitioner deserves to be compensated with costs for the treatment that has been meted out to him. In view of the harassment and frustration caused to the Petitioner, AIIMS is directed to pay costs of Rs.50,000 to the Petitioner”.

The court also noted that the AIIMS controller of examination did not bother to respond to the mail sent by the petition after he was turned back from the examination centre and that the medico was left with no way out of the situation and no immediate recourse.

 “A perusal of the events, which transpired on 26th May, 2018 and 27th May, 2018, show that the controller of examination of AIIMS has adopted a callous attitude towards the Petitioner, inasmuch as they ought to have permitted the Petitioner to give the examination, subject to producing an alternative verification document or subject to verification of the Aadhaar card later. The Petitioner has been unnecessarily deprived of appearing in the AIIMS MBBS Entrance Examination, 2018 for no fault of his,” she said.

The bench read from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, Prospectus, 2018 – MBBS Courses which showed that the only clause relating to admission of a student to the examination centre reads: “No candidate will be allowed to enter the Examination Hall without a valid Admit Card (Original print out), ID proof and one photograph. The ID proof should be the same as the one mentioned in the Application.”

 “From the above clause, it is clear that the Petitioner carried his Admit card as also the original Aadhaar card and he thus fulfilled the criteria fixed for admission to the examination centre. The scanning of the QR code by the official at the entry point is not even prescribed as a requirement in the brochure. Thus, the rejection of the Petitioner’s entry to the examination centre is completely untenable.

 “As per the brochure of AIIMS, Aadhaar card, was only one of the identification proofs. It was not compulsory. The said identification, in the present case, does not relate to any `benefit or subsidy’ being claimed under the said Act, as rightly pointed out by UIDAI,” said the bench criticizing the “lack of coordination amongst the officials who were in-charge of the conduct of the examination both at the examination centre and at AIIMS”.