A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, which was conducting the hearing through video conferencing, directed the university to file an affidavit clarifying its stand and listed for July 9, a plea challenging the conduct of online exams.
“For purposes of clarity and to avoid any ambiguity, it is deemed appropriate to direct the Delhi University to file an affidavit clarifying its stand as recorded above and on any other aspect stated before us so that appropriate orders can be passed on the next date,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a plea by Prateek Sharma and Diksha Singh seeking directions to the Centre for setting up an effective mechanism for visually impaired and other disabled persons so that educational instructions can be transmitted to them properly and teaching material is provided to them through online mode of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plea said that universities, schools, colleges and other educational institutions have engaged in online teaching amid COVID-19 outbreak, but no efforts have been made by the government to consider the need of the visually impaired and specially-abled individuals.
The high court had earlier asked the DU why contempt proceedings not be initiated against it and its officers for trying to mislead the court by withholding information on deferment of the online open book exams.
The exams, which were scheduled to start from July 1, have been deferred by another 10 days and will now commence from July 10.
During the hearing, senior advocate Sachin Dutta, appearing for Delhi University, said that as a run up to the main examinations, the mock exams have commenced on July 4 and will conclude on July 8. Thereafter, the OBE will commence from July 10.
He, however, submitted that if, for any reason, the students are not in a position to sit for the OBE examination commencing on July 10, all the students, whether in the PWD category or otherwise will be afforded an opportunity to sit in the examinations physically in September this year subject to pandemic conditions normalising.
The high court posed certain queries to the DU as to the status of those students who are studying in the final year of the under-graduate courses and propose to seek admission in the post-graduate courses in the event they are not in the position to take the exams through the OBE system conducted remotely and instead elect to await the physical examinations proposed to be conducted in September, 2020.
To this the varsity’s counsel said such students will be provisionally granted admission in the post-graduate courses offered by DU subject to the condition that they meet the eligibility norms after the results of the under-graduate course are declared and subject to their appearing for the entrance examination.
The high court had earlier pulled up the varsity for not informing it on June 26, when the matter was heard, about the decision to defer the examinations.
The bench had said it came to know about the same on June 27 from news reports while it was in the middle of dictating an order to dispose of the petition on the basis of the DU’s statement that it was geared up to commence exams from July 1.
It had said that once DU had told it that it was fully geared up for holding the exams from July 1, any change in schedule ought to have been communicated to the bench.
The DU, in its defence, had said the decision was taken after it came to know on June 26 at around 2.20 pm that the mother of its Deputy Registrar (secrecy) tested positive for COVID-19 and the entire family had to be quarantined.