Published: 03rd June 2021
Delhi High Court issues notice on petition to cancel fourth sem exams for DU's Law students
Why did the law faculty not follow the rest of the university? Because the Bar Council of India had put out a series of notices which said that exams should be conducted for all semesters
While the rest of the students of the University of Delhi studying in intermediary semesters were evaluated via internal assessment and performance in the previous semester, the students of the Faculty of Law have been asked to sit for open book exams for their fourth semester exams. The single-judge bench of Justice Prateek Jalan issued notice on a petition filed by law students of DU, who are now in their sixth semester, seeking cancellation of their fourth semester exams which are still pending for the final year students. The next hearing has been scheduled for July 5.
Why did the law faculty not follow the rest of the university? Because the Bar Council of India had put out a series of notices which said that exams should be conducted for all semesters. "The common case of the petitioners is broadly that the UGC, by a notification dated April 29, 2020, permitted the evaluation of the intermediate semester students by a combination of marks obtained in the internal evaluation and past performance. The university adopted this course for most of its courses. However, the BCI, by a series of notifications, from June 9, 2020, to November 1, 2020, directed all law colleges to hold examinations for the intermediate semesters also. The counsel for the petitioners point out that the notification of the BCI from November 1, insofar as it relates to intermediate semester examinations, was set aside by the Karnataka High Court by a judgment dated February 2 in WP(C) 14839/2020 [Ritvik Balanagraj B vs. Bar Council of India & Ors] and connected matters," said the court order.
The students' counsel pointed out that most law colleges including NLUs have adopted assignment-based evaluation, and it would only be justified for them to be evaluated the same way as well. They also said that students are expected to appear for 10 to 15 exams in a month and that too when COVID's second wave is raging and the students are either ill or their family members are or they are going through financial trouble.
The case has two parts — the exams for the fourth semester should be cancelled and the students should be evaluated like the rest of the university and that the results of the fourth semester should be out before the students go for their final semester exam. In a notice on May 31, the university has announced that, as far as the petitioners’ batch of students is concerned, the examinations for the sixth semester will start from June 14 and the pending examinations of the fourth semester (which would ordinarily have been conducted in the academic session 2019-20), will be tentatively scheduled around July 15.
Justice Jalan said that delaying the exams was not the way to go in any way. "It is not in the interests of the students as a whole to postpone the sixth-semester examinations — and consequently extend the duration of their academic programme — only on the basis of the apprehension that a repeat examination of the fourth semester may not be available until next year. 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 holds the supplementary examination for the fourth semester within a reasonable time," said the court, cancelling an appeal for an interim order.
The Bar Council of India has said that they have set up a committee headed by a former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court and comprising of the heads of law faculties of various universities, to decide on the nature of evaluation. The committee is expected to submit its report within the next week. The University of Delhi told the court that they will reconsider the decision in light of the second wave and the allied problems.