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DU OBE Exam: Delhi HC permits varsity to conduct online test, students say 'not happy, decision unfortunate'

The Delhi High Court on Friday permitted Delhi University to conduct the online open book examination for the final year students. The online OBE is scheduled to begin on August 10. Several students told indiatvnews.com that they are unhappy with this decision but they did expect it.

Sushmita Panda Sushmita Panda @SushmitaPanda
New Delhi Updated on: August 08, 2020 14:27 IST
Delhi HC permits varsity to conduct online test, students say 'not happy, decision unfortunate'

Delhi HC permits varsity to conduct online test, students say 'not happy, decision unfortunate'

The Delhi High Court on Friday permitted Delhi University to conduct the online open book examination for the final year students. The online OBE is scheduled to begin on August 10. Several students told indiatvnews.com that they are unhappy with this decision but they did expect it. 

The order was pronounced by a single-judge bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh, who directed the Delhi University and UGC to follow the directions passed in the court. 

"I am unhappy with the decision. Ignoring the current situation of COVID-19, students are being forced to give examinations. Some will face no problem but some have to face the virus, rains, floods, and so on because they are supposed to travel to CSCs," said Saloni Bajaj, a Final-year MA Philosophy student.  

"If due to some technical glitch if we are not able to submit our answer sheets we will be given another chance but what about our future? Are we just going to think about giving exams the whole year? We had positive hopes from the high court but our belief is shattered. And an unreasonable decision to conduct OBE won," she added. 

The bench has also directed Common Service Centres to notify all its centers to be used for the OBE. 

"I was wondering today and felt anxious thinking if my answers won't upload as it happened in my mock test. It will be difficult to give an exam in a vacant room as there will be no proper atmosphere and there will be anxiety. We won't be satisfied with our answers and we will be thinking a lot before uploading our answers," said Ashima Aggarwal, final year M.A. Comparative Indian Literature.

"Very vague, weird and untimely decision as of now taken by DU. Not in favor of a lot of students belonging to other states owing to the network issue as well as fear of not able to upload the answer scripts. Totally opposing it," said Mahek, final-year MA Philosophy student.

"The verdict was expected since UGC has mandated the examinations to take place in a timed format. However, the court has provided certain safeguards like increasing the time given to the students, having a grievance redressal Committee, and asking DU to expedite the declaration of results. If only DU had listened to us since the beginning, the 1.5 months that were wasted in courts, could’ve been avoided. It all boils down to how efficiently DU will conduct our exams now. A lot of us have already lost out on jobs and masters opportunities. Ab degree mil jaye to vohi bohot lag raha hai (If we can get our degrees on time, that will be enough)," said a student from Gargi College requesting anonymity. 

Advocate Akash Sinha, counsel for the Petitioners told Indiatvnews.com that the verdict passed by the bench is a very brave and progressive judgment. 

"This Court was also operating within a very narrow scope of adjudication in this case because of Division Bench already allowing OBE to go ahead and secondly UGC guidelines which have made final year exams mandatory, are under challenge before the Apex Court. This is the sole reason why despite our arguments about OBE being violative of Fundamental Rights of the students, especially Article 14, 16 and 21 of the Indian Constitution, remaining undefeated, (In the sense that DU & UGC could not counter our arguments successfully ) and despite it being established that OBE and the DU being arbitrary, the Court could not cancel the OBE," said Sinha. 

The counsel also said that the Court has tried to undo DU's folly of delays by fast-tracking evaluation of answer sheets. This will help in an early declaration of results and students can still salvage one year of their career which was certain to be lost had the court not put in these safeguards. 

Sinha also said: "Despite all these limitations, the Hon’ble Court has made very serious remarks about the state of affairs at DU and the manner in which DU went about the entire process of examination. The Court has also opined that DU should have adopted simpler modes of evaluation."

"The Court also took note of serious trust deficit of the students in Delhi University’s actions and hence set up a High Powered Committee headed by Retd. High Court Justice to supervise the manner in which DU resolves grievances of the students. The Court has also sought a comprehensive report after completion of exams. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the Hon’ble Court has acted as a trusted guardian of the students and their interests in this case and I am grateful to the Court for the same," he added.

Major takeaways from the DU OBE judgment are:

  1. The Court could not cancel OBE as Division Bench gave green light to OBE and SC matter against UGC is pending.
  2. Four Hours for Regular, SOL and NCWEB students. In the case of PWD students, it is 6 hours now.
  3. The question paper would be sent to students over the portal as well as mailbox. Upon uploading papers on the portal, students will get acknowledgment on the portal. Sending answers via mail would also be acknowledged by the University via auto-generated mail. Mails can be sent to centralized mail id or college-specific mail id.
  4. University and colleges have been instructed to ensure that there’s enough storage space so that answer sheets do not bounce back.
  5. Despite all these safeguards, if there are glitches faced by students, the Court has set up a High-Level Grievance Redressal Committee headed by Retd. High Court Justice and Advocates (who are helping pro bono) will undertake the resolution of grievances if the DU can not resolve them within 48 hours. Details of members of the panel have been given in the order. Please note the relevant information given for your benefit. The decision of the Committee would be notified to students via mail.
  6. Earlier DU was proposing 85 days for declaration of result because DU had planned to distribute answer sheets for evaluation two weeks after the exams get over. However, The Court has instructed them to Dispatch the answer sheets to evaluating faculty on the same day of the exam, thereby expediting evaluation and declaration of results.

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