The Delhi High Court on Wednesday reserved its order on the batch of petitions challenging the decision of Delhi University to conduct online Open Book Examinations for final-year students. The matter was being heard by a single-judge bench of Justice Pratibha M Singh.
The court took the decision after the Delhi University's counsel provided several clarifications that were requested of them during a previous hearing.
The DU submitted to the court that the OBE were the best option to check the student's knowledge in keeping with UGC's guidelines while adhering to the restrictions thrown by a global pandemic. "This methodology is the best methodology. It requires minimum technology. Email is sufficient. The mode has an inbuilt safeguard and a physical exam will be conducted soon after for those who could not sit for OBE due to any reason. And Results will be declared in shortest possible time" advocate Sachin Dutta appearing for the DU said.
Dutta further said that if the OBE were not allowed it would cause further difficulty to students who are stuck in remote areas due to natural calamity or the COVID-19 situation.
Dutta then challenged the petitioners to get students trouble on record regarding the OBE.
"If Petitioners have personally faced issues they must tell.. all kinds of allegations are made without bringing anything on record. How is any official supposed to respond.. an atmosphere is created that DU is against the students when there is nothing on record," Dutta was quoted as saying by Bar and Bech.
The petitioner's lawyer took exception to this and said: "I don't know why Opposite counsels keep questioning our bonafide and our reason for approaching the Court... Petitioners are personally affected as two belong to Nagaland and Sri Ganganagar, and another has to go to UK for higher studies," advocate Shivankar Sharma was quoted as saying by Live Law.
The DU's counsel also sought to argue on the technicality that an existing Supreme Court order limits court's interference in academic matters.
"In AICTE versus Surendra Kumar Dhawan case of 2009 the SC delineated the scope of interference of the Court in such administrative issues," Dutta states, further arguing that a taskforce comprised of the senior-most and eminent academicians of the country took the decision to go ahead with OBE.
Meanwhile, Dutta also pointed out that a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court has also given the go ahead to OBE. "Division Bench has permitted DU to go ahead, reviewed the preparedness and passed a detailed order," Dutta said. To which, Justice Singh replied that she will go through the order and come to a decision later.
A division bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad earlier on Wednesday asked the DU to ensure that no visually impaired student is deprived of a scribe at common service centres.
The High Court also asked the varsity to make reading material available to visually impaired students within three weeks of receiving a request for the material demanded.
The court had earlier made it clear that it was the DU's responsibility to make available scribes for visually impaired students or else the process of online OBE would be a "mockery" for them. It had earlier questioned the DU of its lack of preparedness and facilities, including arrangement of scribes and CSE Centers, for differently abled students to enable them to appear in the online OBE.
With inputs from ANI