Delhi HC bench to hear petitions to find a solution to the mess
While the Delhi University (DU), in the face of stiff opposition and protests, may have developed cold feet and had started thinking of postponing the final Open Book Exams (OBE) till after August 15 (or even later, originally scheduled for July 10), the Delhi High Court, resuming its hearing today (July 8) in the issue, has referred the case to the Division bench which sits tomorrow.
What was presented to the court today essentially were new office memoranda (OM) and SOP issued by the Universities Grants Commission (UGC) – issued today – in which the university has been given time to conduct the exams by September 29.
It was also made known to the court that universities have been allowed the option of conducting the exams online or offline or through a blend of both. This is subject to the residential status of the students.
Counsel Sunita Ojha, appearing for the Union of India (UoI), reiterated that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has even given permission to hold physical written and oral exams. This was as per the advisory issued to DU.
It was informed that the decision was taken in a meeting yesterday (July 7) by a high-powered committee to postpone the exams. Today two fresh petitions have been filed which say that because of the enormous uncertainty that has arisen from the repeated postponements of exams by the university, the students should be allowed a closure and be promoted on the basis on previous marks of previous or internal exams.
It was also said that a large number of emails have been sent by students and issues have been raised that will come into the picture in the case of a postponement. These were issues such as their inability to pursue post grad studies in the US and/or the UK where transcripts have to be submitted by July-August. There was also the inability to gain employment in PSUs etc.
Several students have informed that their family members have been found COVID positive and some have been found positive themselves, so they cannot appear for exams. More than 500 emails have come from students who have suffered mental trauma because of the ongoing uncertainties arising out of continuous postponement.
The admissions issue
It has been alleged that the DU has been treating this exam issue without thinking about the plight of the students. The issue had reached the offices of HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, who held a meeting yesterday and now it s learnt that the university is also looking for an extension of its admission window. This will allow students appearing for engineering and medical entrance tests. While the JEE (Main), is scheduled for September 1 to 6, NEET is scheduled for September 13. JEE (Advanced) is set for September 27.
Yesterday, the Delhi High Court bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh, heard a petition filed by a final year PG student, Anupam, along with other students of Delhi University.
The students wanted a court directive on a June 6 notification of Delhi University which talked about conducting a remote, OBE for final year under graduate and PG students. This included students of School of Open Learning (SOL) and the Non-Collegiate Women’s Education Board (NCWEB).
Advocate Akash Sinha, representing the petitioners, detailed the problems faced by students. These included the lack of access to proper internet facilities. Many students are stuck in areas where there is complete lockdown and hence no internet access through cafes. Then there are some students stuck in flooded areas. Above all, the mock tests conducted by Delhi University were full of glitches. Many students of the University did not have access to online classes and they do not have their books and study material with them, because they are stuck elsewhere. The appeal was that conducting exams under such circumstances would amount to severe injustice to the students.
Among the instruction that the court passed yesterday were the following:
- i)… the DU shall place on record the following data:
- a) The number of students who are studying in the final year of DU and the number of students who are registered for the final year examinations to be conducted through the online process;
- b) A state-wise break-up of the students and from where they have to take the examinations;
- c) Preparedness of the website portal for handling of the traffic during examinations, keeping in mind the recent technical glitches faced by students during the mock exams;
- d) The schedule of examinations i.e., evaluation of papers, date for announcement of results and date for issuance of transcripts. While preparing and placing on record the schedule before this Court, DU shall bear in mind the deadlines for all the final year students who have to seek employment, deadlines for postgraduate entrance examinations, deadlines for submission of documents to international universities where students may have secured admission etc.”
The proposed inter-based exams have posed a serious logistical problem, as deposited before the court. It has also been reported that exam managers and operators from different parts in Haryana, Punjab and Assam seem to have no idea of the proposed OBE. They have reportedly said that they have not even received any notification.