July 7, 2021 12:52:36 pm
The Bombay High Court recently directed the University of Mumbai (MU) to hand over the degree certificates of 1,763 students of SVKM’s Mithibai College at Vile Parle (W), which were withheld by the University, as the college had changed its marking system ‘midway’ during the courses, after being granted an autonomous institution status by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in March, 2018.
Under the changed system, apart from grades, the college was also giving marks obtained by the students. However, MU had discontinued giving marks and had introduced a grading system. The HC held that the university’s refusal to issue degree certificates of the students was “illegal” and would “prejudice” the interest of students who have enrolled themselves for further studies and taken up employment.
A division bench of Justice Nitin M Jamdar and Justice Chandrakant V Bhadang on July 3 passed a verdict on a plea by ‘Mithibai College of Arts, Chauhan Institute of Science and Amrutben Jivanlal College for Commerce and Economics,’ which was granted autonomous status by UGC in March, 2018, seeking relief against University’s action.
Senior advocate Prasad K Dhakephalkar and advocate S K Srivastav for the petitioner college and its principal Krutika B Desai informed the HC that on June 16, last year, based on feedback from students, the college had decided to include total marks and percentage, along with grades in statement of marks and notified grading system for all its courses for academic year 2019-20.
Advocate Akshay Shinde for MU told the bench that the University issued letters to the college on July 6 and August 16 last year along with March 5 this year, stating that as per rule and precedents, the college was not entitled to ‘midway’ change the grading system of a course that has commenced before the autonomy was granted.
The university added that the college should change the system from the first year of the course and avoid causing ‘prejudice’ to the interest of students.
After the College sought from MU to issue degree certificates to the students from all its courses, the MU refused the same for 128 students of Allowed To Keep Term (ATKT) batch of academic year 2018-19, 1380 students of the regular under graduate course batch of AY 2019-20 and 255 students of postgraduate courses regular batch. Aggrieved by MU’s decision to withhold the degrees, the college approached HC.
Perusing submissions, the bench observed, “The ground taken by MU to withhold degree certificates is not tenable and is vague… It is incorrect and has to be rejected.”
The HC observed that no student had made a grievance claiming ‘incorrect grades’ given by college. The bench observed, “In fact, it is the petitioner (college) who is espousing the students’ cause. Even to invoke the principle based on the analogy that rules of the game cannot be changed mid-way is based on prejudice.”
The court noted that exams have already been held and students have been given a statement with percentages and marks, based on which, some of them have taken admissions for higher studies in India and abroad, while some have taken up jobs.
“It was not possible to recall and resubmit the results for change of grades,” HC noted.
“This practical difficulty is not considered by the Board of Examination of MU… The action of the University in not issuing the degree certificate to the students at this stage is, in fact, prejudicial to these students. We hold that reasons given to withhold degree certificates are not legal and valid,” the bench held.
The court allowed the college’s plea by directing the MU to issue degree certificates within four weeks from the date of order.
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