A petition has been filed before the Delhi High Court challenging the constitutionality of the directions provided by the Bar Council of India to all Law Universities across the country to conduct the examinations of the final year students through online mode or any other appropriate mode and to conduct intermediate year law examinations after the colleges are reopened.
The plea has been filed by Purbayan Chakraborty and Vishal Tripathi through Advocates Gunjan Singh and Pragya Ganjoo. It challenges the notification issued by Delhi University on 27th June, which states that the new date sheets for all UG and PG programs in Open Book Examination mode will be released by 3rd July and the examinations will commence from 10th July. The issue highlighted in the plea is that “25% law students, at maximum, have smartphones, computers, and internet connection” and concerning this, the plea brings to light the suicide of a 16-year old student in Assam who was troubled about not being able to participate in online classes and examinations as he did not have a smartphone.
The plea also says that any direction to hold examinations would be discriminatory and excluding the poorer 75% of the student population. The online classes which are said to have happened, would not be accessible to the students who do not have smartphones or devices or internet facilities to access the classes. The plea states that the alternative here is to conduct no examinations and take the average of the students’ marks over the previous semesters and grade them based on that. The plea refers to a recent CBSE notification where similar steps were taken. The online classes conducted by the Universities have also been criticized in this plea, “the so-called lectures conducted online were delivered haphazardly and partially, and many of those weren’t delivered on accounts of Covid-19. The BCI may be called upon to inform as to what percentage of the lectures supposed to be done online were actually conducted.” The situation of Delhi University has been highlighted in the plea stating that hard copies of case materials were not provided to the students and also when the lockdown was announced many students were in their hometowns as it was the time of their mid-semester break, so they don’t have any study material with them. Many students faced the problems of lack of internet facilities, laptops, smartphones, a quiet space, printers, or finances to get the hard copies of the material available. With reference to the above-mentioned reasons, the plea prays for the quashing of the 27th May Guideline of BCI and the 9th June press release and also the 27th June Delhi University notification. It also prays for an order directing an alternate system of evaluation to be formed considering the poorer sections and avoiding any discrimination and disadvantage. On 27th May, BCI issued a Guideline and then a Press Release on 9th June, stating that final year law students shall be allowed to appear for online examinations, and it is up to the Universities, to conduct exams of the students unable to give exams through online mode by forming an alternate strategy. The Guidelines prescribed promotion based on the marks of the previous semesters and marks obtained in the internal examinations conducted for the current semester for the intermediate year students. The Universities were also directed to conduct the end semester examinations within one month of the reopening of colleges. [Read Petition]