UGC, HRD Ministry should clear stand on final year exams in varsities: HC

The high court also directed the varsity to give the schedule of examinations, that is, evaluation of papers, a date for the announcement of results and date for issuance of transcripts. Representative Image
The Delhi High Court Monday directed the UGC and Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) to clarify their stand as to whether they recommend cancellation of final year examinations in all the universities across the country due to Covid-19 pandemic situation.

The high court said the stand should be made clear by Tuesday and directed that responsible officials from the Ministry of HRD and University Grants Commission (UGC) shall join the hearing on July 7.

Justice Prathiba M Singh, who was conducting the hearing through video conferencing, also directed the UGC's committee headed by professor R C Kuhad to submit its report on final guidelines to the authorities concerned by Tuesday and it shall be placed before the court.

The UGC, which is an overarching body for all the universities, ought to, in fact, take a decision and give its recommendations to all the Universities across the country. UGC is a party in the present petition and it is admittedly considering the issues relating to final year examinations.

Thus, there should be no further delay in the UGC's Committee submitting its report and the advisory from the UGC/ Ministry of HRD, being issued to Universities in respect of conduct of final year examinations, the high court said.

The high court was hearing a petition by several students of the final year of Delhi University (DU) seeking quashing and withdrawal of the notifications of May 14, May 30 and June 27 in respect of conduction of online exams for undergraduate and postgraduate students, including students of the School of Open Learning and Non-Collegiate Women Education Board.

As an alternative prayer, it also sought to direct DU to evaluate the final year students based on the previous years' or semesters' results in the same manner as the university has planned to promote the first and second-year students.

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An application for impleadment has also been moved by five students from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University. Out of these five students, one student is from Faridabad, two from Delhi, one from Nagaland and one from Rajasthan.

The high court noted that several students may have already obtained employment and may be compelled to report to their jobs and others may be scheduled to pursue post-graduate studies in India and abroad.

Justice Singh said administrative authorities who are in charge of conducting examinations in universities, including the UGC and the Central Government, ought to also bear in mind that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in enormous mental distress and agony to students.

"There are families which are suffering medical illnesses and giving of examinations is not just a technological issue but the state of mental preparedness of the students also needs to be assessed," the judge said.

The high court said the deadlines for submission of final year transcripts in all these universities would be in August-September 2020 and a large number of states, universities and institutions have cancelled final year examinations, including Maharashtra, Orissa, Haryana, MP, Punjab, NALSAR (Hyderabad), NUJS (Kolkata), IIT Kharagpur, IIT Bombay, Calcutta University, Lucknow University, Punjab University, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam University.

It said some universities and institutions have opted for conducting examinations online which have already been completed and many varsities are also awaiting UGC's fresh guidelines.

The high court, in its order, said students in most universities and institutions which have cancelled the examinations have been promoted on the basis of past performance coupled with internal assessments wherever available.

Regarding the Delhi University, it said DU is a university of excellence and studying in DU is a matter of pride as it attracts the best talent from across the country.

Thus, the problems of DU students may be much more, and thus the difficulties of the large expanse of students hailing from different regions need to be borne in mind. They cannot be judged on the basis of the facilities available in a city like Delhi or other metros, it said.

The high court directed the DU to place on record the number of students who are studying in the final year of the varsity and who are registered for the final year examinations to be conducted through the online process.

DU will also give a state-wise break-up of the students and from where they have to take the examinations, the preparedness of the website portal for the handling of the traffic during exams, keeping in mind the recent technical glitches faced by students during the mock exams.

The high court also directed the varsity to give the schedule of examinations, that is, evaluation of papers, a date for the 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, it said.

It also directed professor Vinay Gupta, Dean of Examinations at DU, to join the proceedings on Tuesday.

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