The Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Panjab University on 1st September2020 -Tuesday to reconsider its decision of scrapping the UGLAW for the 5-year law course as mentioned in the circular dated 11th August 2020.
The Division bench comprised of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice AvneeshJhingan who was dealing with a number of petitions that were forwarded opposing the decision given by the Panjab University, Chandigarh (Respondent) to scrap the UGLAW entrance test for admission process to the B.A/B.Com LL.B. (Hons) 5-year integrated course for the upcoming academic year 2020-21.
Background of the Case
Initially, the University had planned to hold the entrance exam for the 5-year integrated law course, and the date which was originally finalized kept getting canceled and postponed due to the Covid-19 situation in the nation. However, the University issued a circular on 11th August 2020, which stated that the entrance test for the 5-year law course (UGLAW) was canceled on the account of the COVID-19 situation.
The said circular proposed the new schedule for the admission process which inter alia states that a tentative merit list will be shown on the website of the University by the evening hours of 22nd September 2020 and after inviting the objections thereof the provisional list will be displayed by the evening of 29th September 2020.
As the entrance test was scrapped, the merit list will be made on the basis of marks scored by the students in their 10+2 examination.
Contentions of Petitioner
The submissions put forward by the petitioners were basically the students who had applied for a 5-year law course. They stated that the excuse of COVID-19 for scrapping the entrance test is not valid in fact as the University is holding exams for other courses as well which includes the three-year law course for the same academic session.
It was further added that 12th Standard marks cannot be taken as the sole criterion for determining the aptness of a candidate for admission to the 5-year law courses as it was neither reliable nor rational. It exhibits the admission process peremptory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. The petitioners even gave the references of some Supreme Court Judgments which declined the postponing or scrapping of entrance exams for courses elsewhere in the country.
It may also be noted that when the suit CWP-12832-2020 was heard on Monday, 31st August 2020, a submission was made by the counsel of petitioner Mr. Deepak Vashishth that it was completely illogical that the University had scrapped the entrance of 5-year law course while they were planning to hold the entrance examination for the three-year law course, thus there was no legitimate reason to scrap the 5-year UGLAW entrance test.
Contentions of Respondent
The counsel appearing for the University had confirmed on 1st September, Tuesday that the University was to hold the entrances for the 3-year law course. He also argued that as far as the 5-year law course was concerned, as the results of 10+2 were already declared the University felt that it could drop the entrance of a 5-year law course and rather make an admission on the basis of 10+2 marks secured by students.
The Court found merit in the contention of the petitioners that the specified reason in the circular dated 11th August 2020, ‘the COVID-19 situation’ is not reasonable enough especially when the University is holding entrance exams for the 3-year law course and other courses too.
The court commented, “Given the fact that there is usually the little scope of inclusion of law-based subjects in the syllabus for the 10+2 classes, it is not possible to make a comparative valuation of the suitability of candidates for the admission in the 5-year law courses solely on the grounds of 10+2 examination score of students.”
The Court also observed that “It is essential to note that the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for admission in the national law schools for the current session has not been scrapped. The UGC’s view with regard to holding of entrance test for admission of various courses should be taken note of.”
Thus, the Court disposed of these petitions directing the University “to reconsider its decision to scrap the UGLAW entrance examination for the 5-year law course as mentioned in the circular 11th August 2020 and take a new decision not later than 15th September 2020, which is in consonance with the markings of the Court of the present order and the grounds stated in the petitions.”
The said order will be uploaded on the official website of the University instantly after it is taken. Till that period, the University has been directed to not proceed further with any admissions of B.A/B.Com LL.B (Hons) 5-year integrated course as per the circular dated 11th August 2020 as well as the guidelines mentioned on the website of the University on 25th August 2020.
Details of the Case
Case name- Saurav Rao and Ors v. Panjab University through its Registrar, Sector 14, Chandigarh, and Ors. (with) Navya Raj Petitioner v. Panjab University, Chandigarh, and Ors.
Case no- CWP-12832-2020 WITH CWP-13272-2020
Quorum- Justice S Muralidhar and Justice AvneeshJhingan
Counsel for Petitioner- Advocate Deepak Vashishth and Vikas Chatrath
Counsel for Respondent- Advocate Arun Bakshi, Advocate Preeti Dalal (respondent no. 3)