A law student from the Delhi University has addressed a letter to the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice DN Patel, highlighting the plight of students in view of the Government ordered directing Universities to compulsorily conduct examination of final year students.
Stressing upon the impracticability of conducting online and/ or offline examinations in a developing country struggling with the Covid crisis, the law student Aastha Khanna has said,
"Your lordship, more than anything else, the students crave for their fundamental rights and human rights to be protected. As a student and former Joint Secretary, Law Centre-1 Students' Union, University of Delhi, I urge and implore you to take steps to serve the interests of all the stakeholders regardless of their social or economic disabilities, by adopting an alternative model of examination and prevent the situation from culminating into an implicit acceptance of social injustice and upheld the values enshrined in the ever so reverential Constitution of India."
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs had permitted the conduct of exams by Universities and Institutions vide notification dated July 6, 2020 and had ordered the Universities to compulsorily conduct examination of final year students as per UGC guidelines and Standard Operating Procedure.
Home Ministry Permits Conduct Of Exams By Universities, Institutions
In furtherance of the aforementioned notification, UGC has issued revised guidelines for University examination for terminal semester students whereby it instructed Universities to conduct exams in offline (pen & paper)/ online/ blended (offline + online) mode.
In her letter, Khanna has asserted that it would be "perilous" to conduct examination through offline mode despite social distancing norms.
"I write this letter to appeal, through this Hon'ble Court, to the humanity and moral sense of the Ministry of Human Resource Development ('MHRD'), University Grants Commission ('UGC') and other academic bodies adamant to conduct the examination of students when the Coronavirus has taken over the world and totally changed our lives," she wrote.
So far as conducting exams through online mode is concerned, she said,
"Although MHRD has suggested an alternative model for conducting examination such as online Open Book Examination ('OBE'), it has lost sight of the socio-economic barriers which many students not only from remote areas but also from the cavernous depths of metro cities face."
She highlighted various news reports about students committing suicide due to lack of access to smartphone/ computer. In this backdrop she said,
"These guidelines for compulsory examination of final year/terminal semester students are in flagrant violation of the fundamental rights and moral values as they fail to take into consideration the infrastructural disparities and insurmountable torment faced by students from economically backward class due to lack of facilities."
"This is not how an education system should be. The academic evaluation and examination system shall not outweigh the lives of students."
Inter alia, she has pointed out the difficulty that will be faced by foreign students, situated in different time-zones, in taking online examination.
"The premier universities in India also cater to the academic demands of students from across the border, which poses another issue of difference in time-zone for conducting online exams. Students, irrespective of their nationality, should not be troubled and dismayed due to an issue wholly out of their control. An education system should work in the best interest of the students and not against them."
She has therefore urged Chief Justice Patel to take apposite steps towards securing the students fundamental rights.
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