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Taje Sufiyah Sulaiman vs Union Of India And Anr. on 13 September, 2018

* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

% Judgment delivered on: 13.09.2018

+ W.P.(C) 7721/2018 CM No. 29602/2018

TAJE SUFIYAH SULAIMAN … Petitioner
versus

UNION OF INDIA AND ANR. … Respondents

Advocates who appeared in this case:

For the petitioner :Mr J. Sai Deepak with Mr Avinash K. Sharma.
For the respondents :Mr Anurag Ahluwalia, CGSC for UOI.

CORAM:
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE VIBHU BAKHRU

JUDGMENT

VIBHU BAKHRU, J.

1. The petitioner has filed the present petition seeking directions for
reassessment of her answer sheet to question no.1 of paper-II of the
Patent Agent Examination held in the year 2016. The respondents
contend that their policy does not permit any reassessment of answer
sheets and, therefore, the petitioner’s request for reassessment cannot be
acceded to. The petitioner claims that in absence of any rule prohibiting
such re-evaluation, she is entitled to such reassessment. In this view, the
limited question that falls for consideration of this Court is whether the

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 1 of 13
petitioner is entitled to reassessment of the answer sheet submitted by
her.

Factual Background

2. In 2016, the Patent Office conducted the Patent Agent Examination
(hereafter ‗the Examination’) after a gap of three years. The Examination
was held in three rounds: Paper-I, Paper-II and Viva-Voce. Whereas
Paper-I was an objective paper for a maximum of 100 marks, Paper-II was
a subjective paper for a maximum of 100 marks. The third round, that is
the Viva-Voce, wasa maximum of 50 marks. A candidate had to fulfill
two conditions to qualify the Examination. First, to score a minimum of
fifty marks each in paper – Paper-I and Paper-II; and second, to score an
aggregate of sixty percent of the total marks – that is, a cumulative of
sixty percent of the total marks obtained in Paper-I, Paper-II and Viva-
Voce exam. Further, a candidate could appear in the Viva-Voce exam
only if he fulfills the first condition mentioned hereinabove.

3. The petitioner appeared for the Examination conducted on
27.11.2016 at one of the examination centers in New Delhi. Thereafter, on
08.12.2016, the list of the candidates, who had scored 50% or more marks
in Paper-I and Paper-II, was declared.

4. The petitioner failed to make the cut in the aforesaid list. On
12.01.2017, the Patent Office declared the marks awarded to the
candidates in Paper-I and Paper-II. The petitioner was awarded 78 marks
in Paper-I and 49 marks in Paper-II, thereby falling short by one mark for
qualifying Paper-II. The petitioner scored an aggregate of more than 60%

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 2 of 13
in Paper-I and Paper-II, but she could not qualify for the next round, as
she failed to secure minimum 50% marks as required in Paper-II.

5. On 03.02.2017, the petitioner filed an application under the Right
to Information Act, 2005 seeking the copies of her answers sheets of the
Examination. The concerned Central Public Information Officer (CPIO)
supplied the same to the petitioner. On perusal of the said answer sheets,
the petitioner found that she was marked ‗Zero’ (impugned marks) against
Question no.1 in Paper-II.

6. Aggrieved by the aforesaid evaluation, the petitioner sent an e-mail
dated 28.02.2017 to the Examiner of Patents Designs on guidance of
reassessment of the marks. The petitioner received a reply on 01.03.2017
to the said mail, wherein it was stated that revaluation will not be done as
per the policy but an unevaluated answer will be open for consideration.

7. Thereafter, the petitioner sent several mails to respondent no.2 for
considering her case. She received a reply on 11.04.2017, which stated
that the representation made by the petitioner had been considered and it
was clear that the said”question was evaluated”. It was further stated that
revaluation will not be considered.

8. On 18.04.2017, the petitioner sent a letter to respondent no.2
requesting that matter be considered afresh for allocation of marks against
her answer to the Question no.1 of Paper-II. But the petitioner did not
receive any response to the said letter.

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 3 of 13

9. Aggrieved by denial of her request, the petitioner filed the present
petition.

Submissions

10. Mr. Sai Deepak, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner
referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Ran Vijay Singh Ors.
v. State of Uttar Pradesh Ors.: (2018) 2 SCC 357. He drew the
attention of this Court to Paragraph 30.2 of the said decision and
contended that in the present case, there was no rule or regulation which
either permitted re-evaluation or scrutiny of the answer sheet or prohibited
the same. He submitted that in such cases, the court is duly empowered to
direct re-evaluation of the answer sheet. He also referred to the answer
provided by the petitioner to Question No.1 of Paper-II of the
Examination and submitted that the said answer was correct and, in any
case, would deserve atleast some marks. He submitted that assessing the
answer as ‗zero’ was ex-facie erroneous and, therefore, the respondents
ought to be directed to reassess the petitioner’s answer sheet. He further
contended that the Examination was not a competitive examination but
merely permitted the candidate to act as a Patent Agent in terms of
Section 126 of the Patents Act, 1970 (hereafter ‗the Patent Act’). He
submitted that the rationale for not readily acceding to re-evaluation of the
answer sheet in respect of a competitive examination is that such process
would also affect the order of merit. He submitted that in the present case,
the Examination in question was not a competitive examination and,
therefore, the respondents should have no reservation to reassess the
petitioner’s response to Question No.1 of Paper-II in the Examination. He

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 4 of 13
also contended that the respondents’ policy for not re-evaluating the
answer sheets would be of no relevance, as the Examination was
conducted in accordance with the Patent Rules, which did not refer to any
such restriction.

11. Mr. Ahluwalia, the learned counsel appearing for the respondents
handed over the Minutes of the Meeting of the concerned Committee,
held on 04.07.2016, and Minutes of the Patent Agent Examination Board
Meeting, held on 22.09.2016. He submitted that the concerned Committee
had considered various facets of holding the Examination at a meeting
held on 04.07.2016. He drew the attention of this Court to Paragraph 7 of
the said Minutes, wherein the Committee had decided that a policy be
adopted to not to re-check the answer sheet but only to re-calculate the
marks obtained. He submitted that the aforesaid decision was
subsequently accepted at the Patent Agent Examination Board Meeting
held on 22.09.2016. He submitted that the said Minutes clearly indicated
a firm policy of the respondents not to re-evaluate the answer sheets of
various examinees. He also referred to the decision of the Supreme Court
in Pramod Kumar Srivastava v. Chairman, Bihar Public Service
Commission, Patna Ors.: (2004) 6 SCC 714, in support of his
contention that re-evaluation of answer sheets could not be done in
absence of any specific provision in the Rules, Regulations or the Policy
permitting such re-evaluation.

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 5 of 13

Reasons Conclusion

12. Section 126 of the Patent Act provides for the necessary
qualification for registration as a patent agent. In terms of sub-section(1)
of Section 126 of the Patent Act, a person would be qualified to have his
name entered in the Register of Patent Agents if he fulfills the conditions
set out therein. Clause (c) of Section 126(1) of the Patent Act is relevant
and is set out below:

―(c) he has obtained a degree in science, engineering or
technology from any university established under law for
the time being in force in the territory of India or
possesses such other equivalent qualifications as the
Central Government may specify in this behalf and, in
addition,-

(ii) has passed the qualifying examination prescribed for
the purpose; or

(iii) has, for a total period of not less than ten years,
functioned either as an examiner or discharged the
functions of the Controller under section 73 or both, but
ceased to hold any such capacity at the time of making
the application for registration;‖

13. In terms of Section 126(1)(c)(ii) (iii) of the Patent Act, a person
is required to clear the qualifying examination prescribed for the said
purpose.

14. Section 159 of the Patent Act empowers the Central Government to
make rules for carrying out the purposes of the Patent Act. Clause (xiv)
of Section 159(2) of the Patent Act expressly empowers the Central

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 6 of 13
Government to make rules for conducting the qualifying examination for
Patent Agents. Section 159(2)(xiv) of the Patent Act is set out below:

“159. Power of Central Government of make rules.–

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

(2)Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing
power, the Central Government maymake rules to
provide for all or any of the following matters, namely:–

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

(xiv) the manner in which the register of patent
agents may be maintained under sub-section (1) of
section 125 and the safeguards to be observed in the
maintenance of such register of patent agents on
computer floppies, diskettes or any other electronic form
under sub-section (2) of that section; the conduct of
qualifying examinations for patent agents; and matters
connected with their practice and conduct, including the
taking of disciplinary proceedings against patent agents
for misconduct;‖

15. In exercise of powers conferred under Section 159 of the Patent
Act, the Central Government had notified the Patent Rules, 2003
(hereafter ‗the Patent Rules’). Rule 109 of the Patent Rules provides for
registration of a Patent Agent. Rule 110 of the Patent Rules provides for
particulars of the qualifying examination for a Patent Agent. Rule 110 of
the Patent Rules is set out below:

―110. Particulars of the qualifying examination for
patent agents.-(1) The qualifying examination referred
to in clause (c) (ii) of sub-section (1) of section 126

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 7 of 13
shall consist of a written test and a viva voce
examination.

(2) The qualifying examination shall consist of the
following papers and marks, namely:

Paper I – Patents Act and Rules
Paper II – Drafting and interpretation of patent

Specifications and other documents

Viva Voce

(3) A candidate shall be required to secure a
minimum of fifty marks in paper I and Paper II and
shall be declared to have passed the examination only,
if he obtains an aggregate of sixty per cent of the total
marks.‖

16. It is seen from the above that Rule 110 of the Patent Rules provides
that the qualifying exam shall consist of two papers and a viva-voce test.
It also indicates the marks allocated and the marks required to be secured
by the examinee. However, the said Rule does not contain any other
provisions as to how the exam would be conducted. The Patent Rules do
not provide for; the structure of the papers; the frequency of the exams;
the method of marking; and whether the exams would be objective or
subjective etc. All such details as to how the qualifying exam is to be
conducted are plainly at the discretion of the Executive Agency – The
Controller General of Patents Designs and Trade Marks (hereafter
‗CGPDTM’).

17. The Minutes of the Meeting held on 04.07.2016 (which were
handed over by the learned counsel for the respondents) indicate that the

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 8 of 13
meeting was held in the office of the CGPDTM and was also attended by

(i) the CGPDTM; (ii) Head of Office of CGPDTM; (iii) Deputy
Controller of Patent Designs; and (iv) Examiner of Patent and Designs.
The said officers deliberated upon the holding of the Examination and
finalized a tentative timeline for holding such examination including date
of advertisement, commencement of registration, closure of registration,
issue of admit cards, date of examination, date of viva-voce etc. They
further determined the structure of Paper-I and Paper-II as well as level of
difficulty of the questions. The said officials also decided the policy for
checking of answer sheets. Paragraph 7 of the minutes of the said
meeting is relevant and is set out below:

(7.) Checking of answersheets

(a) All the persons who will examine the answer
sheets will be called for a meeting before starting
the process of evaluation. The purpose and
intent of each subjective question and what to
reasonably expect from the candidate will be
explained to them in detail.

(b) A policy not to re-check the answer sheets of the
Patent Agent Examination but to re-calculate the
marks obtained will be followed on receiving the
request for re-evaluation / re-checking / re-
totalling for a maximum period of 01 month after
the announcement of the result. The committee
may accordingly decide.‖

18. A Board was also constituted for rendering advice in connection
with the conduct of the Examination. At the meeting held on 22.09.2016,
the said Board, inter alia, decided as under:

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 9 of 13

―11. A policy not to re-check the answer sheets of the
Patent Agent Examination but to retotal the marks
obtained will be followed on receiving the request for
re-evaluation re-checking re-totalling for examination
period of one month or its the controller may think
appropriate after the announcement of the result for
written examination and before date of viva voce. Any
miscellaneous case may be considered upon by the
CGPDM. While evaluating the answer sheets
awarding marks for viva-voce policy adopted that
fraction of marks shall be avoided.‖

19. In view of the above, it cannot be disputed that the respondents
have adopted a policy not to permit reassessment of the answer sheets.
The contention that the said minutes and the policy are of no relevance, is
unmerited. Section 126(1)(c)(ii) of the Patent Act expressly provides that
for a person to qualify as a Patent Agent, he / she should have passed a
qualifying examination prescribed for the said purpose. The particulars of
the qualifying examination are specified in Rule 110 of the Patent Rules
quoted above. As far as procedure for conducting the Examination and
evaluating the answers is concerned, no rules have been framed.
However, that does not mean that the decision of the CGPDTM in this
regard is of no relevance. Clearly, it is not feasible for the Patent Rules to
prescribe all details. It is trite law that the executive can always fill up the
gaps in legislation. In the present case, the Executing Agency (CGPDTM)
would have full discretion to adopt a procedure in conformity with the
Patent Rules for conduct of the Examination in question. The contention
that such policy is of no relevance and must be ignored is, thus,
fundamentally flawed.

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 10 of 13

20. In view of the specific policy of the respondents not to permit re-
evaluation, the petitioner’s request to the aforesaid effect cannot be
acceded to. In the case of Pramod Kumar Srivastava (supra), the
Supreme Court had authoritatively held that in absence of any provision
for re-evaluation of the answer sheets, an examinee would have no right to
seek re-evaluation of his/her marks. Paragraph 7 of the said decision is
set out below:

“7. We have heard the appellant (writ petitioner) in
person and learned counsel for the respondents at
considerable length. The main question which arises
for consideration is whether the learned Single Judge
was justified in directing re-evaluation of the answer-
book of the appellant in General Science paper. Under
the relevant rules of the Commission, there is no
provision wherein a candidate may be entitled to ask
for re-evaluation of his answer-book. There is a
provision for scrutiny only wherein the answer-books
are seen for the purpose of checking whether all the
answer given by a candidate have been examined and
whether there has been any mistake in the totalling of
marks of each question and noting them correctly on
the first cover page of the answer-book. There is no
dispute that after scrutiny no mistake was found in the
marks awarded to the appellant in the General Science
paper. In this absence of any provision for re-
evaluation of answer-books in the relevant rules, no
candidate in an examination has got any right
whatsoever to claim or ask for re-evaluation of his
marks. This question was examined in considerable
details in Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and
Higher Secondary Education v. Paritosh Bhupesh
kumar Sheth. In this case, the relevant rules provided
for verification (scrutiny of marks) on an application
made to that effect by a candidate. Some of the

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 11 of 13
students filed writ petitions praying that they may be
allowed to inspect the answer-books and the Board be
directed to conduct re-evaluation of such of the answer-
books as the petitioners may demand after inspection.
The High Court held that the rule providing for
verification of marks gave an implied power to the
examinees to demand a disclosure and inspection and
also to seek re-evaluation of the answer-books. The
judgment of the High Court was set aside and it was
held that in absence of a specific provision conferring a
right upon an examinee to have his answer-books re-
evaluated, no such direction can be issued. There is no
dispute that under the relevant rule of the Commission
there is no provision entitling a candidate to have his
answer-books re-evaluated. In such a situation, the
prayer made by the appellant in the writ petition was
wholly untenable and the learned Single Judge had
clearly erred in having the answer-book of the
appellant re-evaluated.‖

21. A plain reading of the decision of the Supreme Court in Ran Vijay
Singh (supra) clearly indicates that the court had reaffirmed its earlier
decisions including in Pramod Kumar Srivastava and reiterated the
principles set out therein. It does appear from Paragraph 30.2 of Ran
Vijay Singh Ors (supra) that in certain cases, the court may permit re-
evaluation or scrutiny of an answer sheet. However, this is permissible
only in rare and exceptional cases and only where the Statute, Rules and
Regulations do not prohibit it. In the present case, the policy adopted by
the CGPDTM for conduct of the Examination, clearly prohibits re-
evaluation / reassessment of answer sheets.

22. In view of the above, this Court is unable to accede to the relief as
sought for by the petitioner.

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 12 of 13

23. The petition and the pending application are, accordingly, disposed of.

VIBHU BAKHRU, J

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018
dr

W.P.(C) 7721/2018 Page 13 of 13

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