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Bombay HC pulls up Mumbai University for changing mode of evaluation for law courses

The lawyers urged that results which are already declared as far back as on May 22, 2020, cannot be announced as cancelled and cannot be substituted by the method prescribed in the July 5 circular issued by MU relying on directives of BCI.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
July 27, 2021 9:44:58 am
The Bombay High Court (File)

The Bombay High Court on Monday pulled up Mumbai University (MU) and ‘prima facie’ observed that the university’s decision to withdraw earlier results of law courses  based on ‘average scores of previous semesters’ and replacing the same with ‘assignment-based evaluation’ due pandemic was ‘unjustified.’

A division bench of Justice R D Dhanuka and Justice R I Chagla was hearing a plea by a final year student of Government Law College (GLC), Mumbai, who has a learning disability- Attention Deficit Disorder, a physical disability in the left eye and also is a patient under treatment for acute stress.

The petitioner has challenged Mumbai University’s order of earlier this month, dated July 5, declaring earlier results exams which were scheduled in the first half of 2020, which could not be conducted due to ‘unprecedented pandemic and nationwide lockdown’ through ‘assignment-based evaluation’

The said exams include semesters 2 and 4 of the three-year LLB Course, along with semesters 2, 4, 6, and 8 of the five-year BLS- LLB course and semesters 2,4,6, and 8 of the five-year BBA -LLB course.

Through its July 5 decision, MU had withdrawn earlier results based on the ‘average scores of the previous semester and internal scores/evaluation’ and proposed to replace them with scores obtained through ‘assignment based evaluation.’

The MU directed that in each subject, two assignments shall be submitted by a student for 50 marks and the score obtained shall be extrapolated to the scale of 60 or 100, whichever is applicable.

The petitioner student through advocates Shashank Sudir, Srishty Jaura, Rahul Jain and Khushboo Rupani raised a grievance that neither the Bar Council of India (BCI) nor the MU are empowered to issue such directions. The lawyers urged that results which are already declared as far back as on May 22, 2020, cannot be announced as cancelled and cannot be substituted by the method prescribed in the July 5 circular issued by MU relying on directives of BCI.

The circular is ‘arbitrary and unreasonable,’ since students are directed to submit ten assignments within a short span of 21 days, the petitioner submitted and sought to set aside the decision.

“We are of the prima facie view that the results which are already declared on May 22, 2020, in respect of various semesters referred in the circular dated July 5, 2021, could not have been withdrawn and the students could not have been directed to submit assignments for the purpose of further evaluation,” the bench noted.

Advocate Ashutosh M Kulkarni for MU submitted that the source of the circular was BCI directives of June 10. The BCI had passed a resolution that Universities shall conduct exams for intermediate and final year law students upon the availability of resources and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in that region. The BCI had added that the Universities were free to determine the mode of evaluation/examination.

The Court ‘prima facie’ observed that counsels for BCI and MU could not point out any provision permitting them to cancel or withdraw the results unilaterally with retrospective effect, which are already declared and directing the students to submit assignments and that also within a short span of time.”

Advocate Amit Sale for BCI sought time to take instructions as to whether directives issued to MU can be withdrawn or modified “in view of the fact that the results of a large number of the students in various semesters which is a subject matter of the impugned circular were already declared on or before May 22, 2020′ and if the results already declared can be restored.

The Court granted time to BCI lawyer and posted the further hearing to Wednesday, July 28.

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