The Delhi High Court Friday pulled up Delhi University after the latter challenged directions passed by a single judge bench reconstituting a grievance redressal committee for the online open book examination (OBE), observing that the panel “neither impinges on the integrity of the appellant/university nor does it intrude on its authority”.
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad ordered the inclusion of Professor S C Rai in the committee, “with the rider that in the event of any cleavage in opinion, the casting vote will be exercised by chairperson of committee”.
“In fact, selecting members of the committee who are not part of the university but have sufficient experience at hand would only add to its stature and endorse the impartiality of the process, more so when it is headed by a retired HC judge,” the bench said in its order.
On August 6, the court had given its nod for DU to conduct the OBE and issued a slew of directions, which included setting up a grievance redressal panel, supposed to have a retired judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice Prathiba Rani, as its chairperson to ensure fair redressal of grievances faced by students.
DU counsel Sachin Datta said the “single judge has exceeded the jurisdiction vested in her by treating the writ petition as a PIL and passing directions including reconstituting the said committee. Two members have been dropped and three names added, out of whom one is a retired judge of Delhi High Court, appointed as chairperson… Reconstitution of… committee is unwarranted and reflects poorly on DU and its integrity.”
Justice Kohli asked Datta why, despite the single bench order, the panel did not function for 7 days: “Don’t take it amiss. There is no ego battle here. How can you have any interest which is contrary to students?”
Datta said the exams were largely a success and there were “hardly any complaints”. Justice Kohli said, “If there are hardly any complaints, then why are you concerned?… If there are 5 or 3 members or… members of such a high rank as a retired judge, the result will be the same.”
Datta said, “The university must be allowed to do its job. Can’t we be trusted to take care of grievances?” Justice Kohli said, “Hand sanitisers are not the only way of sanitising the whole place. You can sanitise your hands, for sanitising a place and making sure everything is on track, all you need to do was to say… we don’t want to hide anything, we are open as a book.”
Datta told the court: “If I have not been discharging my responsibilities in an efficient way, then perhaps this would be justified.” Justice Kohli replied, “We have much to say about your manner of discharging your responsibilities, looking at the background in which you have managed to conduct the OBE. Your readiness has been questioned thrice, you are not able to satisfy any court.”