The Bombay High Court on Friday refused to stay the final year and postgraduate dental exams (BDS and MDS) scheduled to be conducted by the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) later this month.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SP Tavade was hearing a writ plea filed by Akash Udaysing Rajput and other students, through advocate Kuldeep Nikam seeking interim reliefs and opposing the MUHS’s decision seeking a physical presence of medical students at exam centres.
As per the plea, MDS exams are scheduled to begin from August 17, final year dental (BDS) exams will be held from August 25.
Advocate Nikam for students submitted that as per directions issued by the authority, students had to reach exam centres and also need to undergo quarantine. A Dental College in Mumbai had earlier conveyed that it did not have sufficient facilities for providing quarantine to the students and therefore exams should be cancelled, Nikam argued. Due to the prevailing pandemic and grim situation in Maharashtra, it is practically impossible to hold and appear for physical exams, he said.
In view of this, he sought that exams be deferred be held online instead of asking students to appear in person.
Advocate R V Govilkar for MUHS opposed the plea and submitted that examinations for postgraduate course had to be conducted as the students had to be assessed physically to ascertain their skills, comprehension and hence MUHS would conduct the exams.
Moreover, MUHS said that holding final year dental exams was imperative as students would be able to attain the next level pursue specialisation course if they did not take these exams. He also said that no examination for undergraduate students of other years is likely to be conducted presently.
Govilkar said that many deemed universities had already conducted final year exams and the students from government colleges will be at loss if they did not complete their courses by appearing for exams.
“Also, we need these students to graduate. Completing these exams will get the students to graduate and be able to help us fight against Covid-19,” MUHS lawyer said.
He also submitted that the Supreme Court, which is hearing pleas challenging University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines for final year exams, had not granted any stay on university exams and therefore the MUHS was within its rights to conduct exams.
After hearing submissions, Chief Justice Datta questioned the petitioners and said, “You are doctors. If you do not want to appear physically for exams, how can you treat patients?”
The Court also noted that a bunch of petitions had been filed by medical students and while some opposed the exams, some sought from authorities to conduct exams.
The Court refused to grant interim relief by staying examinations and said, “There could be examinees, other than the petitioners, whom might be willing and prepared to write thee examinations even physically. Stay of the examinations behind the back of such examinees would be detrimental to their interests.”
It added, “Without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the petitioners, the University shall be at liberty to conduct the examinations scheduled on August 17 and 25 by strictly adhering to social distancing norms and other protocol to prevent the contagion.”
The bench further said that if any of the petitioner students do not appear for exams and if they make out a ‘strong case’ during the final stage of hearing for the university to conduct seperate exams for them, it shall be open to the Court to make such directions as would be necessary for ends of justice.
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