The Delhi High Court has pulled up the Delhi University for “withholding material information” on postponement of the online open-book examinations (OBE) from the court, and said that contempt proceedings ought to be initiated against the university for “misleading” the court.
DU was to conduct OBE for its final-year/semester students from July 1. However, amid opposition from teachers and students, it announced on June 27 that it is postponing the exam for 10 days “in view of the prevailing situation of Covid-19 pandemic”.
A notice has been issued to DU and Dean Examinations Vinay Gupta in this regard, to which they have to reply within three days.
Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad said that in the previous hearing on June 26, they had “proposed to dispose of” the petition to cancel or defer OBE for PWD (person with disability) students “as it appeared to us on the basis of the submissions made before us that DU was thoroughly geared up to conduct the Open Book Examinations that were to commence on July 1”.
“We had informed learned counsel that the order would be passed in the course of the day and thereafter, it will be uploaded on the website of the High Court,” the HC said in its order.
However, on June 27 “after the order had been dictated but before it could be uploaded on the website”, Justice Kohli “came across a press report” that said DU was postponing exams for 10 days “in view of the prevailing situation of the pandemic”.
“This came as a surprise to us, when just a day before, DU had shown its complete preparedness for conducting the OBE w.e.f. July 1,” the order said.
The Delhi HC said that on June 29, “the only explanation offered by him, which is not a part of any press release, is that the mother of Dr. S Rangabhasham, Deputy Registrar (Secrecy) was suspected of suffering from Covid-19 infection on June 24 and it was discovered in the afternoon of June 26 at 02:20 pm that she was Covid-19 positive”.
“We may note that the High Court functions up to 04:30 pm… there was enough time for DU to have reverted to this court on the same day or at least the next morning and apprise us of the said developments and the decision taken to defer the examinations by 10 days,” the HC said in its order.
“In view of the aforesaid conduct, we are prima facie of the opinion that contempt proceedings ought to be initiated against DU and its officers for withholding material information from the court and trying to mislead the court,” it added.
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