‘Careers, Lives of Students at Stake’: Delhi HC Slams DU Exam Plan

DU was to conduct exams on 10 July, but postponed them at the last minute, court now wants a firm timetable.

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From registration hurdles to finding irrelevant question papers, DU final-year students are unhappy with the mock test.
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“Careers of students are at stake, we are not at all impressed with your submissions.”
Delhi High Court to representatives of Delhi University

The Delhi High Court on Thursday, 9 July had some strong criticism for Delhi University for failing to provide a clear timetable for conducting the final exams for its students, a day after it had suddenly informed the court that it was postponing the exams scheduled to start on 10 July.

Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad of the court have now ordered the DU administration to file a fresh affidavit in court specifying the exact schedule of conducting the exams, whether they’ll be online or offline exams, and what students who won’t be able to sit for the exams at this time will have to do.

The affidavit and date sheet for the exams need to be provided to the high court on 13 July. The next hearing in the case will take place on 14 July.

WHY IS THE DELHI HIGH COURT HEARING THIS CASE?

Several DU students had filed petitions in the high court over a number of issues with the university’s plans for exams for the students. DU was supposed to be conducting open book exams for the final semester for students in all programmes and streams from 1 July.

These exams were to be conducted remotely, though students could take them at Common Service Centres (CSCs) in case they did not have the appropriate technological infrastructure. Petitions filed in the court also noted that the students had not had adequate lectures and online resources, and challenged the conduct of the exams on this basis.

From 1 July the exams were postponed to 10 July, and there was significant controversy over whether the exams should be held offline or online. The Delhi High Court had already hauled up DU for this first postponement, as the administration of the university failed to inform the court about the same.

A contempt notice was issued by the high court against the university and its officials for “withholding material information from the court and trying to mislead the court”, Careers360 reported on 30 June.

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE HIGH COURT ON 9 JULY?

While DU had informed the court about its decision to postpone the exams from 10 July, the proceedings saw them run into trouble for a failure to propose a clear new schedule.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the University Grants Commission (UGC), made it clear at the beginning of the hearing that the universities had to come up with their own schedules for examinations, and that the UGC would not be setting the timetables or modalities.

On Tuesday, 6 July, the UGC had announced that final year examinations could be conducted by universities by the end of September, either online, offline or through a combination of both. Thus, Mehta informed the court, DU could conduct its examinations at any point before 30 September. Mehta informed the court that the UGC was not giving the option of promoting final year students on the basis of internal assessment, LiveLaw reported.

The court then launched into a criticism of DU for constantly changing its exam policy. DU replied that they had decided to postpone the exams at an emergency meeting, where it was felt that students needed more time to figure out the changes to the conduct of the exams.

The judges were critical of the fact that neither had the UGC been informed of this decision, nor had the minutes of the meeting been submitted to the court.

They took further exception to the fact that in their fresh affidavit, DU had only said the exams would take place after 15 August, without specifying the dates for the same. The court asked what would happen to the students who had been preparing for the exams and were ready to sit them now.

The judges also raised concerns over students who could face losing a year if the grant of degrees gets delayed too long. “The lives of so many students are at stake, who are dependent on degrees,” the bench observed, according to LiveLaw.

Following this, DU’s lawyers assured the court that they would submit a clear plan for the exams to the court, keeping UGC guidelines in mind.

(With inputs from LiveLaw and Bar and Bench.)

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