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Pending Exams At Delhi University's Faculty Of Law

Sahil Nindawat & Shambhavi
24 May 2021 7:41 AM GMT
Pending Exams At Delhi Universitys Faculty Of Law
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The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the conventional pre-pandemic higher education system. While some universities have taken recourse to alternative modes of evaluation, the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi has not been as active. Law schools, including NLUs, are conducting the evaluation of the final year students via various alternative schemes. But some 2000 law...

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The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the conventional pre-pandemic higher education system. While some universities have taken recourse to alternative modes of evaluation, the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi has not been as active.

Law schools, including NLUs, are conducting the evaluation of the final year students via various alternative schemes. But some 2000 law students currently enrolled in the final year of DU's 3-year law degree are yet to be evaluated for semester examinations pending since the past academic session.

Final year students are now faced with the looming possibility of having to write exams for twice the number of subjects in one go, and more in case of essential repeaters.

The examinations for all the academic courses in all the varsities got deferred last year with the imposition of lockdown. UGC's report dated 27.04.2020 directed universities to conduct online Open-Book Examinations (OBE) for the final year students and to mark the intermediate semester students under a composite scheme on the basis of their internal assessments and performance in previous semesters.

Since BCI is the governing body for legal education, it released a similar notification dated 09.06.2020, effective for law schools, directing the final year students' exams to be conducted via online mode, but with respect to the intermediate semester students it took a stand contrary to that of UGC, directing all the law schools to conduct physical exams for the said students when the colleges re-open. Thus, the exams were deferred for intermediate year students till the colleges re-opened. Faculty of Law, DU released a circular , in line with the BCI's notification.

Subsequently, the BCI amended its stance via notification dated 01.11.2020, and allowed universities to conduct online exams for intermediate-year students with an option to re-appear when the colleges reopened.

Thus, from 1 November, 2020 it was open to law colleges to conduct online OBE examinations for all pending exams. The Faculty of Law, however, conducted examinations for the next semester, i.e., the 5th semester in the month of December, while the previous semester remained pending. This resulted in an anomalous situation where the exams for the final year were being conducted before concluding the examinations for second year (Faculty of Law, DU has a 3-year LLB course structure).

On 8th February, 2021, the Karnataka High Court quashed the BCI's notification dated 1.11.2020 in Ritvik Balanagraj B v. Bar Council of India, W.P. 14389/2020, and directed that law students be marked for their intermediate semester examinations as per the UGC guidelines i.e. through a composite scheme- 50% marks from the internal assessments and 50% marks for previous performance. The Karnataka High Court noted that the BCI's notification did not have proper application of mind.

Currently, Online classes for the final semester have concluded, and exams from the previous year and the current year remain pending, deferred indefinitely vide notification dated 18.04.2021. The number of exams pending per student range from a minimum of 10 subjects to a maximum of 15 subjects (in case of essential repeaters and improvements), to be taken in before they are granted their degrees. And based on past record, it takes the Faculty at least 3-4 months to process and release the results.

Students wish to pursue masters courses, or have already secured prestigious scholarships and admissions abroad and will have to submit their results, lest their admission be cancelled. Multiple representations highlighting these concerns have been forwarded to the administration and the BCI by the student bodies which have not been heeded.

While any step further delaying evaluation will imperil the students' careers, conducting online OBE during the second wave of the pandemic, burdening students with examinations for 10-15 subjects in a short span of time, will also be hugely unfair.

There is need to consider dispensing with the pending examinations for intermediate semesters, in view of the decision in Ritvik Balnagraj, and the lag of more than a year since the classes for those subjects concluded.

The prevailing sentiment among students is that the Faculty conclude the evaluation for the ongoing semester within a reasonable time by adopting one of the many options such as taking assignments/projects and/or vivas, or as a last resort, conducting online examinations with an option to re-appear/re-submit.

Most importantly, the long-term effects of delaying the grant of degrees to final year students must be kept in mind. Law colleges across India, including NLUs, Amity University, JGLS, etc., have coped and adopted hybrid modes of evaluation with sufficient leeway for reappearing, and will complete evaluation on time. Opportunities such as corporate jobs, LLM degrees, etc will have to be foregone by students at law faculty if their peculiar situation is not remedied.

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