Delhi University informed the Delhi High Court that Open Book Examinations (OBE) for under-graduate courses would commence from July 10 and those students who are unable to take them, be it persons with disabilities or others, will be allowed to appear for the exams physically in September.
The varsity said this would be irrespective of whether students have filled up applications online or not and also in cases where they download the question papers for OBE but fail to upload their answer-sheets.
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, which was conducting the hearing through video conferencing, directed the university to file an affidavit clarifying its stand and listed for July 9, a plea challenging the conduct of online exams.
“For purposes of clarity and to avoid any ambiguity, it is deemed appropriate to direct the Delhi University to file an affidavit clarifying its stand as recorded above and on any other aspect stated before us so that appropriate orders can be passed on the next date,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a plea by Prateek Sharma and Diksha Singh seeking directions to the Centre for setting up an effective mechanism for the and disabled persons so that educational instructions can be transmitted to them properly and teaching material is provided to them through online mode of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plea said that universities, schools, colleges, and other educational institutions have engaged in online teaching amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Still, no additional efforts have been made by the government to consider the need for the visually impaired and specially-abled individuals.
The high court had earlier asked DU why the contempt proceedings have not been initiated against it and its officers for trying to mislead the court by withholding information on postponement of the online, open-book exams.
The exams, which were scheduled to start from July 1, have been deferred by another ten days and will now begin from July 10.
During the hearing, senior advocate Sachin Dutta, appearing for Delhi University, said that as a run-up to the main examinations, the mock exams have commenced on July 4 and will conclude on July 8. After that, the OBE will start on July 10.
He, however, submitted that if for any reason, the students are not in a position to sit for the OBE examination starting on July 10, all the students, whether in the PWD category or otherwise will be allowed to sit in the exams physically in September this year subject to pandemic conditions normalizing.
The high court posed specific queries to DU as to the status of those students who are studying in the final year of the under-graduate courses and propose to seek admission in the post-graduate courses in the event they are not in the position to take the exams through the OBE system conducted remotely and instead elect to await the physical examinations proposed to be held in September 2020.
To this the varsity’s counsel said such students would be provisionally granted admission in the post-graduate courses offered by the DU subject to the condition that they meet the eligibility norms after the results of under-graduate classes are declared and subject to their appearing for the entrance examination.
The high court had earlier pulled up the varsity for not informing it on June 26, when the matter was heard, about the decision to defer the examinations.
The bench had said it came to know about the same on June 27 from news reports while it was in the middle of dictating an order to dispose of the petition based on the DU’s statement that it was geared up to commence exams from July 1.
It had said that once DU told that it was fully geared up for holding the exams from July 1, any change in schedule ought to have been communicated to the bench.
The DU, in its defense, had said the decision was taken after it came to know on June 26 at around 2.20 pm that the mother of its Deputy Registrar (secrecy) tested positive for COVID-19 and the entire family had to be quarantined.