The Delhi High Court refused to pass an order to stay the upcoming six-semester examination as the court considered it to be in the best interest of the students. And issued a notice seeking a response from the Delhi University, Bar Council of India, and the University Grants Commission.
By: Saumya Sakshi, B.A., LL B (H), Amity Law School, Noida, UP
The petitioners in this case are final year LLB students at the Faculty of Law, Delhi University. They pleaded before the court that as per the University Grants Commissions guidelines, from April 2020, all the universities were allowed to evaluate students of intermediary semesters without conducting the examination.
However, the Bar council of India, by a notification issued in November, directed all the law colleges in the country to conduct examinations for intermediary semesters but this order was set aside by the Karnataka High Court in Ritvik Balanagaraj Vs. Bar Council of India & Ors.
Notwithstanding this, the Faculty of Law, Delhi University continues to follow the direction of BCI and issue a tentative schedule for the fourth-semester exam just one month after the completion of the petitioner’s sixth-semester exams. This is a serious matter of concern for those students who will be not able to give exams due to various reasons such as being affected by Covid -19. In this case, such a student will be required to wait for one year if the status quo ensues.
The Delhi high court issued a notice on the matter raised in the petition seeking for cancellation of fourth-semester examinations that were postponed last year due to the covid-19 pandemic. The court sought response from the Delhi University, Bar Council of India, and the University Grants Commission. The University is expected to submit its response within 3 weeks, and has said that it will “consider the necessity of holding the aforesaid examination”.
However, Justice Prateek Jalan refused to further postpone the upcoming sixth-semester examinations, the reason being that further extension of the examination would result in an extension of their academic program, and it is in the best interest of the students.
The court further observed that “it is not in the interest of the students as a whole to postpone the sixth-semester examinations- and consequently extend the duration of their academic program- only on the basis of the apprehension that a repeat examination of the fourth semester may not be available until next year.”
The students were further assured by the court that their rights in the issue of conducting an intermediary exam can be adjusted at a later stage by directing the university to take the examination of the students at a reasonable time.
“If the petitioners make out a case for such an order, the rights of the parties in this regard can be adjusted at the appropriate stage, by directing that the university hold that the supplementary examination for the fourth semester within a reasonable time,” the court stated this while holding that no stay was required against the conduct of the sixth-semester examination.
The court also directed the university to give details in their counter affidavit about all the measures it is taking to ensure the students affected by Covid-19, those unable to give examination due to being affected by Covid-19, and those who are seeking to improve their score are duly provided a second opportunity to take their fourth-semester examination within a reasonable time frame.
In response to this petition, the BCI set up a high-level expert committee, headed by the former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, and with several heads of law facilities to deliberate upon this issue. The committee is expected to submit its report in court within one week.