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Bombay High Court Refuses To Stay Maharashtra University Of Health Science's Offline Semester Exams

Sharmeen Hakim
5 Jun 2021 7:13 AM GMT
Bombay High Court Refuses To Stay Maharashtra University Of Health Sciences Offline Semester Exams
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The Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) on Saturday refused to stay the Maharashtra University of Health Science's (MUHS) decision to conduct the 'Winter 2020' examinations through the 'offline mode' for medical students from June 10, 2021.A bench of Justice Avinash Gharote has posted the PIL, seeking online examinations, or vaccination for nearly 40,000 undergraduates before they...

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The Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) on Saturday refused to stay the Maharashtra University of Health Science's (MUHS) decision to conduct the 'Winter 2020' examinations through the 'offline mode' for medical students from June 10, 2021.

A bench of Justice Avinash Gharote has posted the PIL, seeking online examinations, or vaccination for nearly 40,000 undergraduates before they give the examination spread across 20 days and 173 centres, to June 14.

Though the petitioner's counsel sought for a posting on June 8 (before exams), saying that it will ensure that the students enter the exam halls with adequate precautions, the bench declined the request.

"Once a student has opted to take the examination it is for him to take all the measures. They are going to be future doctors", the bench said.

The bench will consider the matter once again today afternoon to consider the petitioners' prayer forasking students to at least perform RT-PCR tests before they enter the examination hall.

The bench has asked the MUHS counsel to clarify if students can be asked to take RT-PCR tests before entering the hostel and examination. Live Updates from the hearing session may be read here.

UPDATE AT 4 PM - High Court has directed the University to issue advisories to students to produce negative RT-PCR results for exams. For details, read this report.



On Friday, the bench had reserved its order on the PIL by NGO HERD Foundation and a physiotherapy student, Nitesh Tantarpale.

During the hearing, Justice Gharote observed that there is an acute shortage of vaccines and that the University had given students a choice not to give the examination in December.

"You want to enter a noble profession, and you are afraid of contracting the disease? What is going to be the fate of citizens if a would-be doctor is losing courage?"

In the PIL filed last week, the petitioners not only sought for online examinations or vaccines but also for MUHS's May 19 circular to be declared "arbitrary and unreasonable," it being violative of Articles 14 (Right to equality) and 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution of India.

"The first priority must be to vaccinate the students…The petitioners submit that vaccination comes first and examination comes second. This sequence would be in conformity with Article 21 of the constitution of India as it would ensure that the students would be protected by the vaccine against the virus."

"No amount of money can bring a child back from death and to sacrifice the life of the future generation of the nation is not an example the respondents should set." it added.

The PIL challenged the State's decision asking examinees to allegedly sign an undertaking absolving the State of responsibility if students test positive for the covid-19 disease, consequent to the examination.

The undertaking violates Article 21 of the Constitution, the petitioners contended. "…The respondent being the State cannot within the meaning of Article 12 contract out of their fundamental duty to protect the lives of the citizen."

During the hearing on Friday, the petitioners, through Advocate Rahul Bhangde further argued that when vaccines could be provided to students going abroad on priority, why can't they be given to students in India.

MUHS's Arguments

The MUHS, through its counsel Abhijit Deshpande, submitted that students were aware examinations would be conducted via the offline mode in October 2020 itself. Despite this, they approached the court at the 11th hour. Bhangde, however, argued that the examinations were repeatedly postponed, and a final schedule was announced only on May 19, 2021.

MUHS said the University has decided to give an amount up to Rs 1 lakh to a student/teaching staff for hospital expenses, and Rs. 3 lakh in case of an unfortunate fatality from the virus due to their attendance at the examination under the "Covid-19 Suraksha Kavach."

They further argued that two phases of the 'winter 2020' examination for post-graduate and final year undergraduate medical students were completed through the offline mode, and only the third phase remains.

Lastly, the MUHS argued that there was a shortage and uncertainty regarding vaccines and the petitioners should take up that issue in a separate plea.

[HERD Foundation vs UOI]

Click here to read/download the order


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