Short Takes

Need for a Professional Malpractices Act

The electronic media of the country has recently reported an interesting albeit cruel case from Lucknow. A girl named Alankrit appeared at the Class XII examination. She was a brilliant child. She had topped her school in her Class X examination. Yet she was declared " Failed"Failed" in her Class XII examination. Till now there was no news content in the story. This is all possible. The surprising news content came later. She had scored more than 90 percent in all other subjects except in Physics in which she was declared " Failed"Failed". This was most surprising. How a student who scored more than 90 percent in all other subjects, could have scored only 33 out of a hundred in Physics. Obviously there was some thing wrong some where.

Under the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi) which was the examining authority, there is a rule of "Scrutiny" under which a student could apply for re-totaling. This is what the course the parents of the victim took. They applied for scrutiny, which prescribes a re-totaling and not a re-evaluation. After re-totaling, she was declared to have passed the examination. However, by the time the candidate was handed over a "corrected" marks sheet, the year was gone and all the seats in different institutions were filled up and she could not get admission in the next higher class. The poor girl has to suffer the loss of one academic year. The correspondent very rigthtly and legitimately raised the question: who is responsible for her loss of the year? Apparently there is no answer. According to the Correspondent, those responsible at the Board are evading the question. The story ends here.

However, it raises a number of issues about the way our 'systems' work. First is the callousness. It has been reported that parents of the girl were given 'ready made answers' by the concerned clerks when they were running from pillar to the post.
"Come next week"
"Inquire about a fortnight."
"Come again"
"Come tomorrow."
The matter dragged on for one long year till the academic session was lost. No body cares!

The other issue is that of negligence of duty. How a public servant could be so negligent about his / her duties. Even if one is negligent what is the remedy in the system? Nothing! There is no way a wrong could be redressed? There is no punishment for the guys who make mistakes and exhibit such callousness towards their work?

In this country, the doctors leave instruments even towels inside the body of the patients and go Scot free. Although our constitution provides that striving for excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity has been made a fundamental duty of the citizens (Article 51 A -j), it remains mere words. There is no way excellence could be achieved or even pursued. Mediocrity is the rule. It persists because it is tolerated.

It is about high time, that a Professional Malpractice Act is enforced in the country and a public servants is held accountable under law if he does not perform his job properly or causes damage to the client.