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The central government said on Wednesday that discrepancies in admissions to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) were due to a miscalculation by various school boards.

Human resource development (HRD) minister M. M. Pallam Raju said after a review meeting with senior officials of the ministry and IITs that many state boards didn’t calculate the 20 percentile according to the formula prescribed by IIT-Delhi, the organizing IIT for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Advanced, the second part of the two-tier common engineering admission test.

It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen to these students, some of whom have filed cases in various courts across the country.

On 12 July, the Supreme Court stayed proceedings in a case related to this in the Andhra Pradesh high court and said it would hear the matter.

While IIT-Delhi had said the percentile should be based on the number of students passing the school-leaving examination, several boards including that of Andhra Pradesh based it on the number of students who appeared for the board examination, Raju told reporters.

Raju said he doesn’t have the exact numbers for the students who missed out due to this.

The IITs said they excluded 79 students who did not make the cut despite holding top ranks in the JEE Advanced. The Madras zone that includes Andhra Pradesh, had 35 affected students, followed by 19 from Kharagpur zone and 14 from Kanpur zone.

“We have gone by the rule. It was clear from last year that the percentile will be calculated on successful candidates of respective boards. The percentile calculation was supposed to be done by the COBSE (Council of Boards of School Education) but several boards calculated it on their own," said H.C. Gupta, the professor in-charge of the JEE-Advanced.

Gupta said most boards had miscalculated the percentile, indicating that the number of aggrieved students could rise.

He said Andhra Pradesh was the first to issue the percentile cut off.

Out of a total 530 marks in the Class 12 board exam, the top 20 percentile cut off was set at 476 marks for the general category. This should have been 487, he said.

Raju said that a related controversy over the normalization of different school boards for admission to all central government-funded engineering schools except IITs could not be discussed on Wednesday as the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) chairman was travelling to attend a court case.

CBSE was in charge of the normalization process for admission to 30 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and other top schools.

Scores of parents and aggrieved students have approached high courts and the Supreme Court to stay the admission process based on the normalization, saying that at least 25,000 students have missed out on admission to top engineering schools.

The Supreme Court said last week that admission to engineering schools would be subject to its eventual ruling on a petition challenging the process, but refused to stay the admissions.

CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi could not be reached despite several calls to his mobile phone but an HRD ministry official said the government is in favour of clubbing all the cases, related to normalization as well as admission to the IITs, to be heard in the Supreme Court.

The official, who did not want to be named, also said that Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy had reached out to Raju on the issue.

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