Delhi High Court: Online Open Book Examination Doesn’t Harm Student’s Rights

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The High Court of Delhi on Friday allowed Delhi University (DU) to proceed with its online Open Book Examinations (OBE) for final year students. The Court declined the student’s plea to stay the exam. However, it passed a slew of directions to address the various concerns raised by students. The OBE is set to begin on Monday.

Facts of the Case

In Anupam & Ors vs The University of Delhi, the petition challenged the decision of the University to conduct online OBE. Many DU students filed the petition because it is discriminatory as most students do not have access to the internet or books. Hence, instead of OBE, the Petitioners mooted for the project-based, internal, or assessment based on past results. But DU, on the other hand, remained consistent to conduct exams before 30th September.

Petitioner’s Arguments

Advocate Akash Sinha appeared for the Petitioners. He contended that the online OBE, in its present form, was discriminatory qua students as many students have no cyber facilities/resources or are stuck in COVID-19 quarantine zones or flooded areas.

Mr Sinha further added that “time-bound” examination (as per UGC guidelines) and OBE violates the rights guaranteed under Article 14, 16, and 21 of the Constitution.

Reference was also made to other universities such as NLU Delhi and JNU as it gave more than 24 hours to its students to write the examination.

Respondent’s Argument

Senior Advocate Sachin Dutta and Advocate M Rupal defended DU’s decision. They argued that OBE is the best way to carry forward as per UGC guidelines. Also, a student wouldn’t need to have very high technology at his/her disposal to sit for the examination.

It was further submitted that the senior academicians and experts decided to conduct OBE. Hence as a rule of prudence, the Court should not interfere in the academic sphere.

Moreover, Professor Vinay Gupta, the Dean of Examinations, had apprised the Court that all the students had submitted their emails and that the helplines were available on the website for the students to access. Furthermore, a Grievance Committee would also look into the matter via a notification dated 4th August.

Court’s Observation

The Court observed that the process had inbuilt safeguards, including the availability of Common Service Centres for students with no cyberinfrastructure, grievance committee, and helplines. Also, the students would always have the option to sit for a physical examination that would happen in September 2020.

Court’s Order

The Single Bench of Justice Pratibha M Singh passed the following directions:

  1. The question paper will get uploaded on the portal and sent to the student’s email ID.
  2. Students will get an extra hour for uploading the answer sheet.
  3. Auto-generated email to be sent confirming receipt of the answer sheet.
  4. Details of Nodal officer, Central Email ID must get published online.
  5. Common Service Centre to notify all its centres by the end of the day.
  6. There must be a grievance officer to address the issues raised by the students. In case of a non-redressal, the complaint would pass on to the Grievance Committee.
  7. Grievance Committee reconstituted under the aegis of Justice (retd) Pratibha Rani. Grievance Committee to function till OBE continues.
  8.  The redressal of complaints should be within 5 days.
  9. The announcement of the results of OBE should be in a short period.

The Court will next consider the matter on 22nd September to ascertain the compliance of its directions.


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