PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa has upheld the provisions of the Goa University ordinance that denies benefit of gracing to allow a student to pass in an individual subject in the Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA) course. 

A division bench comprising Justice RP Sondurbaldota and Justice UV Bakre observed, "If one reads the objective of the programme, the absence of gracing can be justified. The objective is 'to produce employable IT workforce, that will have sound knowledge of IT and business fundamentals that can be applied to develop and customize solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs)'." 

While stating that there would be a question mark about the "sound knowledge" of the subject by a student who has cleared the subject through gracing, the high court opined that if the university decides to have a system of evaluation by doing away with the provision of grace marks it would be a matter of its academic policy. 

The policy having been devolved by academicians and experts there can be no scope for judicial review by this court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the high court noted. The court remarked that the policy of evaluation of a student, allotment of marks and giving additional marks for sports or other extra-curricular activities being within the academic domain of university, the policy cannot be interfered with by the court. 

Rushil AA Diniz, a student of Fr Agnel College, had filed a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the provisions of the ordinance. Diniz stated that he represented the college in an inter-collegiate table tennis tournament and is entitled to receive 10 marks called 'entitlement marks'. 

He stated that these marks should be added to the subject of computer organization and reconstruction in which he had failed. 

On such addition he would be able to clear the subject since the total of the marks for that paper would then go up to 44, he pointed out. Diniz appeared for the first semester of BCA and cleared all the papers except this particular paper and was awarded grade 'F' (failure). Diniz applied for verification and learnt that he had secured 34 marks in the subject. The minimum passing marks are 40. 

Ordinance 5.16 of Goa University makes provisions relating to grace marks at university examinations where system of evaluation by marks is in force. Ordinance OC-47A.4.1 pertaining to the BCA course provides that absolute grading scheme shall be followed to compute grades for each course. 

The ordinance for BCA states that entitlement marks under OC 47A.4.3.(ii) cannot be used for the purpose of gracing in an individual course. It can also not be used for the purpose of securing class, honours or distinctions. They are to be added to the 'total before calculating CPI at the end of each semester'. 

Diniz contended that the classification sought to be made between the grading system (of BCA) and non-grading system is artificial and without any intelligible differentia and hence violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India 

According to Diniz, a student participating in sports activities, whether a student of the course covered by the grading system or covered by the non-grading system, has to spend the same amount of time and energy while participating in sports activities. Therefore, the benefits available of marks awarded as entitlement marks should be same for both students and there cannot be any discrimination between the two, he pointed out. 

Advocate SD Lotlikar, who appeared for Diniz, submitted that a BCA student has been patently discriminated against in the matter of utilization of entitlement marks. Lotlikar argued that a student participating in extra-curricular activities loses part of the time for studies in preparing for and participating in other activities to bring laurels to his college/university and therefore must get the maximum benefit of the entitlement marks either by using them for the purpose of clearing a subject or for getting any class in a subject. 

State advocate general ANS Nadkarni stated that students evaluated on a grading system are a class by themselves. Nadkarni argued that the provisions under the two ordinances operate in two different and distinct spheres and there can be no comparison between the two even for the purpose of allotment of sports merit marks. Unlike the marks system, the grading system is a progressive system of evaluation having continuous evaluation of a student, he contended. 

The high court further observed, "Since the system of grading is completely different from the system of marks, in our considered opinion, there can be no comparison between the two. In some respects, ie in the matter of gracing, the grading system may appear to be stricter than the marks system." 

The court also stated that a student while seeking admission to any course is informed of the system and standard of evaluation. Having chosen the course, despite the system, he cannot have the luxury of complaining about it at a later point of time when it is not possible for him to meet the standard, the court remarked.
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