Published: 10th August 2022
KCET repeaters row: What does the KEA have to say about its 'note' that is being challenged in the K'taka High Court
The document verification process is underway online for the COMEDK admissions through KCET even as students demand the postponement of the counselling. Here's where the case stands
Even as the document verification process continues online for admission into technical and professional courses under COMEDK (Consortium of Medical, Engineering, and Dental Colleges of Karnataka) through the Karnataka Common Entrance Test (KCET) 2022, a batch of almost 25,000 students await an order from the Karnataka High Court with bated breath.
These are students who cleared their Pre-University II year in 2021 and took the KCET exam for a second time this year. These students have been told that their PU II scores will not be considered in the KCET rank for which 50% weightage is given to the KCET marks and 50% is reserved for the PU II scores. The Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA), which conducts the KCET, has taken a stand that the PU II marks for these students will not be included in their KCET rank, since they did not write the Board exam for PU II and their merit for clearing PU II was decided based on an average of their PU I and SSLC (Class X) scores. This decision, according to these students, puts them at a significant disadvantage against the PU II batch of 2022, who did write the Board exams.
In 2021, the Government of Karnataka issued an order stating that PU II marks will not be considered for any student in the calculation of the KCET rank that year, due to the pandemic. "This year, multiple times, students approached various authorities, including the KEA, the Ministry of Education and even the Chief Minister's Office, to confirm that PU II marks will be considered for the KCET rank. The students were told to rest assured that the weightage of 50-50 will be reinstated this year," says advocate Rajendra B Kulkarni, who is representing a group of 16 students in one of the petitions filed in the matter in the Karnataka High Court.
These petitions challenge the note issued by the KEA on July 30, 2022, on the day the KCET results were announced this year, and say that, "As per Government Order no ED147TEC2020 dated 01/09/2021, the qualifying marks of 2021 students was not considered for CET ranking for the Academic Year 2021 and is not considered for 2022-23 as well."
The petitions state that this note is arbitrary and that the KEA had no authority to issue this note since the GO of September 2021 was applicable to that year alone. On the other hand, the Executive Director of the KEA, Ramya S, says, "They should have known better. When the marks were not considered in 2021, how can they expect us to consider them this year? These students have not written the (PU II) exam. Our set of rules states that the 50% weightage is given to marks from the qualifying exam. Since there was no exam last year, it was decided that the merit will be decided solely on CET marks." With regards to the note, she says that the clarification was issued on the day of the results only because students were protesting outside the KEA's office.
In 2021, according to the GO, the PU II marks were not included in the KCET rankings for any of the students, either freshers or repeaters. "When there was uniformity last year, why not ensure it this year as well? This is a common entrance exam. There should be unifying criteria for everyone. Them not considering our marks and taking those of the freshers is just discriminatory," claims one student from the 2021 PU II batch, who wrote the KCET for a second time this year. On the condition of anonymity, she goes on to add, "They did not inform us beforehand. If they had, we would have taken whatever seats we were getting last year itself. I scored 68 marks in the KCET last year and my ranking was 38,000. This year, I scored 101 marks and my ranking was 72,000. I will not get a good seat in any college now." The student from Bengaluru was aiming to pursue Engineering in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, or Electronics and Communications Engineering.
Sadashiv Hiremat, a 19-year-old PU II student from the 2021-22 batch from the Bagalkot district in Karnataka, also attempted the KCET exam for the second time this year. He is one of the petitioners in the batch that the Karnataka High Court will hear on August 18. "The ranks that we have been left with will not even get us into Tier III colleges or even in courses such as Forestry or Agriculture. The authorities should have informed us beforehand that our marks will not be considered in the KCET rank. And now that this has been done, they should either decide the rank based on KCET scores only or ensure that some weightage be given to our PU II scores as well in the KCET rank," he says.
"We are also the COVID batch. We also had to adjust to studying online and we struggled to understand concepts. It took us time to adjust and so we thought we would take the exam this year again to improve our ranks. It is not fair to think we have an advantage just because we did not write the exam or got 5% grace marks for our PU II last year. This year, the batch that wrote the exam had more choice in their question papers than ever and that added up to almost 40 marks. That in itself equalises the disparity that might have been caused by us not writing the exam last year," says a KCET repeater from the 2021 batch of PU II students.
However, the KEA has a slightly different view of the matter. "How does that equalise anything? The students this year wrote the exam. Our rules say we have to consider marks from the qualifying exam. It's not like the Board is against one set of students. We only want to have fair play for all students. Government policies should be continued, which is what happened with not considering the PU II marks for the 2021 batch. If we had considered them, then that would have been a questionable act on our part. The PU II marks for the 2020 batch were also not considered as per the government order last year. However, that did not come to our notice at all. I feel that their KCET scores, even after preparation, are not up to the mark and, therefore, they are at a disadvantage. It is only when the students feel they are at a disadvantage that they protest these policies," says the Executive Director of KEA.
For now, the document verification process is underway online on the KEA website. The counselling process will begin towards the end of this month, subject to the order of the Karnataka High Court, according to the KEA.