A group of students has moved the Supreme Court against the decision of the Lucknow-based Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam Technical University (AKTU) to conduct semester examinations in offline mode amid coronavirus and related risks.
In the petition filed before the country's top court, students said that gathering of thousands at examination centers is not a safe step amidst the COVID-19 pandemic which has still not ended. Further, they said that the students neither have books nor any resources to prepare for the offline exams.
The petitioners said that the parents and guardians of the students were not giving consent for offline exams considering safety concerns. Pushing for a favorable decision, the plea cited examples of varsities including Punjab University, Amity University, Delhi University, IITs, and NITs that have conducted online examinations.
The students of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University have been taught via online mode for the entire session of 2020-21, the petition mentioned. It said that AKTU is forcing students to come to colleges and take offline and subjective-based exams that would go on for 3 hours. Students claimed that they have been asked to sign a consent letter saying that the college authorities will not be responsible if any of them get infected and that the students will be held accountable for it.
The petitioners said that the issue of conducting offline exams by the university is a "serious" issue and that it is "playing with students' future, career, and mental health". They urged the court to pass an order directing the university to stay offline examinations.
A week back, AKTU vice-chancellor Prof Vinay Kumar Pathak had told India TV Digital that it was "not feasible" to conduct the exams online as 90 percent of the varsity students resided in villages. "90 percent of our students reside in villages, how will they access the internet? It is not feasible. Plus, online proctoring for 2.5 lakh students is impossible," he said. Prof Pathak had also cited the downward trend in India's COVID-19 trajectory.
"Even if we conduct online exams, how will practical exams be held? Students need to be physically present for practicals. Moreover, cases of the coronavirus have dwindled, so the threat perception is also less," the vice-chancellor said.
Meanwhile, many students took to Twitter to protest the offline examinations scheduled in February.
"We have already told AKTU that if the offline exam happens, then we will face a lot of problems, despite this, still AKTU has released a new date sheet for the offline exam," a student wrote on Twitter.