CAT taker files PIL against computer-based exam failure

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 06, 2010 19:50 hrs

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) may have a new worry on their plate, with a Common Admission Test (CAT) taker from Bangalore filing a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court, seeking cancellation of CAT 2009 and a re-test in the paper-pencil format.

The petitioner, Harsha Shettigar, is a 26-year old software professional from Bangalore, who appeared for the exam this year. Shettigar has contended that the computer-based CAT 2009 was a failure due to malafide administration and consequent infringement of the legal rights of the candidates of CAT 2009.

The petition was filed on January 2, and is expected to come up before the court for admission this week.

Shettigar, who gave CAT for the third time in 2009, said while his test in Bangalore had been smooth, many others faced technical issues. What motivated him to file the petition is that students who took the exam in the later days stood to gain, as they got the benefit of understanding the question patterns from those who had appeared for it in the initial days.

"The system was unfair to those who wrote it in the first few days. Despite there being a non-disclosure agreement in place, many students discussed questions on public forums. The HRD ministry accepted the IIMs’ decision to go ahead with the CAT. It is now up to the court to decide if they want to admit the petition," Shettigar told Business Standard. He filed the petition in consultation with an advocate and no coaching institutes or other bodies were associated with the move.

The IIMs’ maiden computer-based CAT has come under criticism from various quarters for mismanagement. Private coaching institutes have been vocal about their disappointment with the way CAT was organised this year. However, lawyers say it’s too early to comment on the matter, as the petition has not been admitted yet.

"If the court admits the petition, it might ask for an enquiry into the matter. If the petitioner has mentioned about cases of cheating or malpractices in the petition, he would have to prove the same, which might be difficult," said a lawyer on the matter.

The petition has named the CAT Convenor, director of IIM Bangalore and the human resource development ministry’s principal secretary as respondents. At the time of writing, Satish Deodhar, convenor, CAT 2009, had no inkling of the development. "I have received no such communication on the PIL. However, as soon as I receive any intimation on it, I will take it up with the IIM directors," said Deodhar. Pankaj Chandra, director, IIM Bangalore, who has also been made a respondent to the case, could not be reached.

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