‘Covid caused students mental distress’: HC on plea for exam scrapping

New Delhi, July 6, 2020 –

The Delhi High Court on Monday, while seeking the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s stand on whether to cancel the final year examination of degree courses, said that holding exams is not just a technological issue but also needs to take in account the mental preparedness of students.

“…the UGC and the Central government, ought to also bear in mind that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in enormous mental distress and agony to students. There are families which are suffering medical illnesses and giving of examinations is not just a technological issue but the state of mental preparedness of the students also needs to be assessed,” said the court.

The observations by a single judge bench of Justice Pratibha M. Singh came in while it sought a response from the UGC and Centre over the cancellation of the examinations.

The bench said that the UGC and the HRD Ministry shall take a specific stand as to whether they recommend cancellation of final year examinations.

It has also asked responsible officials from the MHRD and the UGC to join the hearing on Tuesday.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Anupam and several students of the final year of the Delhi University seeking cancellation of the examinations in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The plea sought quashing and withdrawal of the notifications May 14, May 30, and June 27 in respect of undergraduate and postgraduate students, including students of the School of Open Learning and Non-Collegiate Women Education Board.

During the course of hearing, the petitioner’s counsel submitted that the DU’s portal for conducting online open book examination is also not working properly, and the pandemic is at its height.

“Under such circumstances, permitting students to take examinations in community service centres also has a risk of Covid-19 spreading further,” said advocates Akash Sinha and Shubham Saket appearing for the petitioner.

Opposing the submissions, advocate Sachin Dutta, appearing for the varsity, submitted that though there were technical glitches faced on the first day of the mock test, on the second day, the mock tests were conducted smoothly.

On a query from the Court, as to whether the date sheet has been announced, the varsity submitted that though the dates are not readily available with them, these had been published on the website this morning.

Advocate Apurv Kurup, appearing for the UGC, submitted that its guidelines are advisory in nature and are not binding.

Agreeing that a large number of universities do go by the UGC’s guidelines, Kurup said: “Several universities have cancelled their exams and several other universities have also gone ahead and held their exams as per media reports.”

MHRD’s counsel Sunita Ojha told the bench that she does not have any instructions as of Monday and there is no decision which has been published by the Ministry on its website.

The court, noting that “it is clear that the online examination which the DU intends to conduct had various glitches during the mock tests”, has now asked the varsity to provide the data regarding number of students who are studying in the final year and the number of students who are registered for the final year examinations to be conducted through the online process.

The bench has also asked the varsity to state its preparedness of the website portal for handling of the traffic during examinations, keeping in mind the recent technical glitches faced by students during the mock exams.  (Agency)

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