New Delhi, June 30 : The Delhi High Court has held that contempt proceedings should be initiated against the Delhi University and its officials for "misleading" the court by "withholding material information" over the issue of postponement of the open book online examinations which were slated to commence from July 1.
"...we are prima facie of the opinion that contempt proceedings ought to be initiated against the Delhi University and its officers for withholding material information from the court and trying to mislead the court," said a division bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subromoniam Prasad.
The observation followed the court coming across a news report which stated that the Delhi University had decided to postpone the exams by 10 days in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"This came as a surprise to us, when just a day before, Delhi University had shown its complete preparedness for conducting the exams from 01.07.2020," it said adding that just before the order, in a plea opposing these exams, was about to be uploaded on Saturday evening, the court came across a media report of which claimed that the exams have been deferred by 10 more days.
After noting the same, Justice Kohli asked the court master to enquire about this from the varsity's counsel who confirmed the press release regarding the postponement of the examinations.
The bench then ordered the court master that this petition filed by Prateek Sharma and Diksha Singh will be relisted on Monday for it to enquire from the DU as why was the bench not informed of the said development on June 26 itself.
The plea filed by Sharma said that universities, schools, colleges, and other educational institutions have engaged in online teaching amid Covid-19 outbreak, but no efforts have been made by the government to consider the need of the visually impaired and specially-abled individuals.
When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, the court asked the reason behind the withholding of the said information, to which the varsity responded that Deputy Registrar (Secrecy) Dr S. Rangabhasham's mother was suspected of suffering from Covid-19 infection on June 24 and tested positive for it in the afternoon of June 26.
Noting the submission, the court said "...if the stand of the Delhi University is correct that because a family member of Dr S. Rangabhasham, Deputy Registrar (Secrecy) had gone down with Covid-19 infection and the University came to know that the entire family had to be quarantined only after the matter was over, then there was enough time for the respondent to have reverted back to this Court on the same day or at least the next morning and apprise us of the said developments and the decision taken to defer the examinations by 10 days."
The court has now sought response from the varsity within three days and slated the matter for hearing on July 6.
Commenting on the move, the All India Students Association (AISA) condemned the "shameless" act of the varsity and demanded that the DU scraps online exams with immediate effect to end the mental agony and trauma borne out of this uncertainty that has put the future of innumerable terminal batches at stake.
"Despite the recommendation of the UGC and request by its students and teachers, the university is set to conduct online exams from 10th July. The online OBE is an exclusionary step which will hinder people stuck in remote areas and facing adversities during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic from taking the exam," it said in a statement.
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