In a major verdict, the Supreme Court on Monday scrapped the All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) for 2015-16 following the leak of its question paper and circulation of the answer keys through electronic devices at different examination centres in 10 states.
The AIPMT was conducted for 15 percent all-India quota seats.
A vacation bench of Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Amitava Roy, while cancelling the examination and directing its re-conduct within four weeks, said: "We are aware that the abrogation of the examination would result in some inconvenience to all concerned and that same extra time would be consumed for holding a fresh examination with renewed efforts."
Holding that the entire conduct of the AIPMT has been rendered "futile by a handful of elements seeking to reap undue financial gain by subjecting the process to their evil manoeuvres", the court said: "We have thus no hesitation to order that the All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Test stands cancelled."
"This, according to us, is the price the stakeholders would have to suffer in order to maintain the impeccable and irrefutable sanctity and credibility of a process of examination, to assess the innate worth and capability of the participating candidates for being assigned inter se merit positions commensurate to their performance based on genuine and sincere endeavours," said Justice Roy, while pronouncing the judgment.
While directing the re-conduct of the entire test, the court rejected the Central Board of Secondary Education's (CBSE) plea not to scrap the test as it would affect 6.30 lakh students and also the re-conduct of the examination could not be completed before four months.
Taking note of the plea of "enormity" of the task and the time frame of "four months" flagged by the CBSE, the court said: "We would emphasize that this is an occasion where it (CBSE) ought to gear up in full all its resources in the right spirit, in coordination with all other institutions that may be involved so as to act in tandem and hold the examination afresh at the earliest".
It was a "collective challenge" that all the role-players would have to meet, by rising to the occasion and fulfil the task ahead at the earliest, "so as to thwart and abort the deplorable design of a mindless few seeking to highjack the process for selfish gain along with the unscrupulous beneficiaries thereof", the court said.
While ordering that the exam be re-conducted, the court noted that on previous occasions "such type of examination had been held anew within a period of one month".
Observing that all other institutions would not "lag behind to extend all possible assistance to the Board in its renewed endeavour" involving "tireless efforts", the court said: "The CBSE would now have to hold a fresh examination at the earliest, by complying with all necessary and prescribed norms, being mindful of the exigency amongst others of the commencement of the academic session which presently stands scheduled to be on and from August 1, 2015."
The court's order came on a PIL and other petitions seeking the re-conduct of the examination in the wake of the leak of the question paper, contending that it has compromised the integrity of the entrance test.