On 7th October 2020, a Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Justice Prathiba M. Singh heard the case of Sandesh Jha & Ors. v. State of Delhi And Others via video conferencing.
Facts of the Case
The Petitioners in this case were studying in their fifth semester of the LLB course, in the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi (DU). The Petitioners have challenged the impugned notification dated 22nd August 2017 and a notice dated 9th October 2017, by which the method of conducting supplementary examinations had been changed for the final year students. The grievance of the Petitioners was that they had taken admission in the Faculty of Law, DU in 2017, and the notifications which were issued on 22nd August 2017 and 9th October 2017 cannot be applied retrospectively.
Contentions of the Petitioners
Mr Rajesh Tandon, Senior counsel appearing for the Petitioners submitted that the settled position was that the notification ought not to have been given effect to, and the rules for the conduct of supplementary examinations cannot be changed after the students have already taken admission.
The Counsel placed reliance on the case of Vikas Bhaskar v. University of Delhi And Anr. which held that an amendment ordinance cannot be applied retrospectively. Thus, the Counsel submitted that though the students were in their fifth semesters, they would be governed by the position which was prevalent prior to the impugned notifications, as was applicable since 2014.
Mr Satyam Singh, counsel appearing for the 2nd Petitioner. submitted that the retrospective applicability of the notification was not permissible as the students had a legitimate expectation.
Contentions of the Respondent
Mr Mohinder J. S. Rupal, counsel for the DU, submitted that it had been clarified that the notification would apply with effect from the academic year 2017-18. He further submitted that the students, in this case, may have been admitted in July 2017, however, the admission process continued till the end of August 2017 and they had been aware of the method of conduct of supplementary examinations for the past three years. Thus, their challenge to the notification was overdue as the said notification had taken effect and had been applied in the last two years as well.
The Court apprehended that the primary grievance of the Petitioners was that the method of conduct of the supplementary examinations had been changed by the DU in August 2017 while they had taken admission in July 2017. Thus, the Court looked into the comparison of the previous method of conducting supplementary examinations and the method of conduct of the supplementary examinations prevalent later on.
The Court opined that a law or amendment cannot operate retrospectively so as to divest a person of his/her vested legal rights. The University of Delhi had failed to consider the effect of the Impugned Notice on the students who had already planned their examination schedules for two years as per the notification dated 14.11.2014 and there was no justification for taking away the rights of the students to take their supplementary examinations as per the unamended ordinance, at such an overdue stage.
The Court further opined that the students who had taken admission before the academic year 2017-18 deserved at least one opportunity to take their supplementary examinations as per the unamended ordinance. The Court also clarified that it had not interfered with the applicability of the Impugned Notice to students who had taken admission after the academic year 2016-17, since such students had adequate notice and ample opportunity to plan their academic and examination schedules as per the changed rules regarding supplementary examinations.
The Court also stated that it would not entertain belated challenge w.r.t. legitimate expectation as, the students, since 2017, had already been informed as to the manner and method as well as the frequency of the conduct of the supplementary examinations.
The petition and all pending applications were disposed of by the Court. The University of Delhi was directed to grant one opportunity to all the students of the LLB Course, who had taken admission prior to the academic year 2017-18, to take their supplementary examinations as per the unamended rules/ordinance contained in notification dated 14.11.2014.
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