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Writ petition filed in SC challenges MHA Notification, UGC guidelines calling for conduction of final terms exams.

The plea prays for the promotion of students based on the performance in the previous semester by aggregation of scores instead of mandatorily having students take exams.

Writ Petition was filed by the Yash Dubey through Raj K. Verma, Advocate on record, before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. The Petitioner is a Final Year law student of Creer College of Law, Barkatullah University, Bhopal, and also circle head (student wing) of Youth Bar Association of India. 

Earlier the Petitioner on 10.07.2020, had moved a letter petition seeking suo-moto cognizance of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the issue of compulsory conduct of examination for final year students, in view of the notification dated 06.07.2020 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (hereinafter referred to as ‘MHA’). 

The undersigned has challenged the compulsory conduct of examination of the final year students, inter alia on the following grounds –

  • That the present model of conduct of online examination will give rise to an elitist culture where the advantage will go to the rich, who have access to online facilities and also to those institutions which are privileged to provide online facilities and online teaching;
  • That it is baffling to note that just one semester of the examination will be determinative of the integrity and value of a degree for which students worked hard for six to ten semesters, as the case may be and have also appeared for internal examinations for the sixth or tenth semester.
  • That the issue in the present matter is similar to the matter of Amit Bathla v. Central Board of School Education 2020 SCC Online 537, wherein the issue concerning the conduct of examination of Class X and XII of CBSE and ICSE was involved;
  • That the Revised Guidelines are in sheer violation of the fundamental rights enshrined under Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution of India, as it fails to consider the principles of health, safety, fair and equal opportunity for the students;
  • That in view of unprecedented health emergency and rising numbers of the Covid-19 cases in the country, the conduct of examination (either online/offline/blended) will expose the examinees to high risk and will undeniably sacrifice the basic principle of integrity by neglecting equal basis and treatment to all examinees;
  • That the conduct of offline exams will entail students (who have already traveled to their hometown) to migrate from one place to another, in order to attend the examination. This will also involve the risk of staying in shared accommodation as various colleges and hostels have been converted into quarantine centers;
  • That issuance of provisional degree for the final year students is the need of the hour and the repeated insistence on the conduction of final year examination in the current circumstances is practically impossible and is altogether a discriminatory process, in. That insistence on the conduct of examination and non-issuance of provisional degree will jeopardize the future of students in their final year.
  • That while India has already crossed the tally of 10.38 lakh and while the number of states is bringing back lockdown of various types, the deadline of September 2020 for the conduct of examination is unattainable and if the virus continues to spread, no university/college administration will be in a position to announce examinations and the students will continue to be in limbo about their future.
  • That it will be unjust to neglect the problems that will be faced by thousands of students, who will sit for the online examination as the same will indubitably work against the interest of students whose access to the internet is precarious and who do not have personal computers or laptops in their house, which are imperative to conduct online examination;
  • That in view of the COVID induced lockdown, many parents have undergone substantial pay cuts and even layoffs and in light of the same, it will be extremely difficult for a large section of the students to pay their examination fee or to bear the stay and travel expenses to the source where the examination will be conducted;
  • That the suggested model of conduction of compulsory examination takes the students backward rather than forward. It effectively brings in the second phase of postponement of examination, which creates a cloud of uncertainty for the states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Punjab and West Bengal, which already decided to cancel examination;
  • That it is most humbly submitted that the Revised Guidelines not only provides for a model which is extremely dangerous for the lives of thousands of attendees (students of final-year/semester cohorts) but at the same time it is extremely dangerous for the Professor’s who will be invigilating the exams;
  • That it is relevant to note that the UGC has cited examples of top-ranking Universities such as MIT, Cambridge for conduction of examination during the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, by doing so, the UGC has totally neglected the unprecedented difficulties that our country is facing in times of pandemic. To say the least, in these testing days, a section of our society is not able to arrange bread and butter for a day. Therefore, given the current difficulties that our country is facing, it is quite unrealistic to justify the reasoning of the conduction of virtual examination by relying on examples of the premier institutions of the world. 

The Petitioner has sought the following prayer: 

  • Issue a writ of Mandamus or any appropriate writ, order or direction to quash and set aside the notification dated 06.07.2020 issued by MHA and subsequently the Revised UGC Guidelines dated 06.07.2020; and
  • Issue a writ of Mandamus or any appropriate writ, order or direction to the respondents to provide for an alternative mode of assessment of the final year students, in the wake of Corona Virus disease outbreak (‘Covid-19); and
  • Issue a writ of Mandamus, or any appropriate writ, order or direction to Respondent No. 2 to call upon universities to submit a set of parameters for evaluation of the students based on students past performance and accordingly award provisional degrees to the students; 
  • Issue a writ of Mandamus or any appropriate writ, order or direction to respondents to promote the students based on the performance in the previous semesters by taking an aggregate score for all the semesters and extrapolating them to calculate the marks for the final semester.

Source: Team Attorneylex

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