The general rule that is followed, during online court proceedings amid the pandemic, is that apart from the judge and the arguing counsel, no one is supposed to switch on their audio and video during the session. However, students present for the proceedings were inappropriately dressed. Their messages kept popping up in the chat box during the hearing on the final year OBEs to be conducted by Delhi University. One message read, “I HATE DELHI UNIVERSITY! I am being punished for choosing Delhi University as my college.”
The situation went quite out of hand and Justice Prathiba M. Singh told the students to switch off their cameras and microphones.
After seeing such messages, the court asked for information about the sender of those messages and how they received the link to access the hearing in the first place. The advocate representing several petitioners stated that it was probably the students who must have received the link from the court master. Finally, the advocate requested the students via a message in the chat box to turn off their cameras and mics.
During the proceedings, there were several queries by the court to the parties’ counsel. One of them was related to the total marks of each paper. For this, the students sent myriad messages in the chat box.
Apart from that, solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the University Grants Commission (UGC), stated that the majority of the assessment for the final year could not be based on the internals. He argued that the UGC has always upheld the importance of written examinations. He further added that the exam- be it online, offline or blended, needs to be time-based not presentation based.
On the other hand, advocate Akash Sinha, representing petitioners Anupam and others, stated that several students who do not have access to Internet facilities have missed their mock tests and would instead write the main exam directly on 10 August. He also argued that many students who might have stable Internet connection are living in containment zones and flooded areas. Therefore, he stated that, the OBEs infringe upon the students’ right to livelihood as job offers are being delayed or taken away due to the final exams, giving students from other universities an edge over DU students.
Advocate Shivankar Sharma, representing an intervener, argued that the task force had opted for OBEs without any concrete grounds for the same. They did not even heed to the problems of the students, who are the most integral stakeholders in this. He further said that it was not an entirely online exam as students would still have to click pictures of the answers and then upload, making it a blended mode of exams.
The court then heard the arguments advanced by the counsel for UGC, petitioners, and the intervener. At the end, it listed the matter for hearing submissions of Delhi University on 8 August 2020.