University of Delhi: Against the provision of the Open Book Examinations (OBE), three students have filed a petition in the High Court, terming the move as ‘discriminatory’ under the Constitution’s Right to Equality. The next date for the hearing is on June 22, 2020 and the verdict is much awaited by the terminal year students who seek the provision to be scraped off for a multitude of reasons.
Numerous letters and pleas have been submitted by the students and teachers all over the University addressing the administration to withdraw the OBE. In an earlier letter addressed to the Vice Chancellor Yogesh Tyagi, the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) had registered its strong protest against the ‘bureaucratic approach’ of the administration. In a new letter addressed to the Prime Minister, the Ministry of HRD and the Chairperson of UGC, the DUTA has once again condemned this move terming it as ‘iniquitous, short-sighted and a cruel experiment.’
A myriad of student bodies have also asked the administration to roll back the OBE as it is detrimental to the interests of the students from rural India, poor-urban areas, the Kashmiri students, the students from Bengal and Odisha who have been affected by Amphan, the differently-abled students, etc. Many students do not have access to technology in all its forms (printers, scanners, computers even in many cases and reliable and stable internet connections) and the inability of the DU website to handle such a heavy load is a grave concern haunting the students. The DUTA and the student bodies believe that the online methods of teaching cannot substitute face to face teaching and hence, a system of examinations that does not take into account this aspect is unacceptable.
The petition filed in the High Court accuses the University of violating the Right to Equality of the petitioners and the students, at large, because of the difference in technological infrastructure, connectivity and the atmosphere including background noises, sitting space, dedicated room, etc which will “adversely affect the interest of students” of rural and poor urban areas. The petition mentions a lack of approval of OBE “through any rules, regulations or decision of the Academic Council (Section 23 of the Delhi University Act).” The inexperience of the administration, teachers and the students for OBE compromises “the sanctity of the examinations” along with the fact that the online classes recorded minimum attendance.
The petition also mentions that the notification has no direction that curbs cheating means like the device camera to be kept on, no use of Search Engines or a mechanism to surveil the examinees by the University. The mid semester break followed by a sudden lockdown left the out-stationed students without their study materials and resources, as mentioned in the petition.
The petitioners have also illustrated the Central University of Haryana’s decision to not conduct an OBE as the Vice Chancellor, RC Kuhad said “it is not fully equipped or trained for the task.” Over 170 teachers of the University have also written to the Vice Chancellor to withhold the decision so as not to compromise with the sanctity of the examinations.