Online Examinations, Government agrees to address grievances of the blind students, Court however refuses to stay the Examination Process
The Delhi High Court taking cognizance of petition by National
Federation of the Blind, who have been asked to appear for the Online
Examinations of the Delhi University has directed UGC, Central Government and
the Delhi University to consider their grievances and find a solution for such
The Petition filed by National Federation of the Blind challenges
the decision of the Delhi University (DU) for holding of Open Book Examination
remotely for the final year/term/ semester students on the ground that the same
is against the rights of students with visual impairment and other disabilities
under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
The Petitioners had sought assessment of the performance of
visually impaired and other disabled students of final semester/term/ year,
both of UG and PG programmes, for Academic Session 2019-2020, on the basis of
their performance in the previous semester as well as internal assessment, on
the same basis as has been decided to be done for other intermediate semester
The Petitioners pointed out several difficulties which the
students suffering from visual impairment, are likely to face, which are
(i) non-availability of scribes in the prevalent Covid-19
(ii) the hesitation of the scribes, even if available, to act as
a scribe on account of social distancing norms still advised to be followed;
(iii) non-availability of course material with the students (we
are informed that the course material was provided by the respondent No. 2 DU);
(iv) several of the students having left Delhi and being
presently stationed at their hometowns/ cities/villages where it is not
possible for them to participate in the Open Book Examination by downloading
the question-paper and by uploading the answer-sheets; and,
(v) lack of assistive devices with the students at the place
where they presently are.
The Hon’ble High Court did not consider the demand of the
Petitioners for assessment on the basis of internal assessment only or on the
basis of their performance in the earlier semester, taking a view that once the
academic authorities competent to take a decision in this regard have taken a
decision to hold an examination there is no need to interfere in the decision
of the academic authorities.
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The University and the Government Authorities informed the
Hon’ble Court that they will hold parlays with the petitioner and with
representatives of students with other disabilities, to resolve the various
difficulties which students with disabilities have expressed and find solutions
therefor. The Counsel appearing for the Government also assured that if the
study material of any of the students is locked in the hostel rooms, provision
shall be made to enable the students to collect the said material as and when
desired by them. It was also assured that if any additional study material is
required, endeavour shall be made to provide the same.
The Respondents authorities assured the Court that a solution
would definitely be placed before this Court with respect to each of the
aforesaid apprehensions/difficulties expressed by the petitioner, on the next
date, the Hon’ble Court has been pleased to schedule the matter on 12.06.2020.
Most importantly, the Court also clarified that pendency of this
Petition shall not mean that Open Book Examination tentatively scheduled from
1st July 2020 will be delayed merely because this petition is filed or is being
HC directs reimbursement of costs upto total of Rs.2 lakhs to
visually impaired students, to procure books in accessible form and/or
assistive devices for Examinations
We think that while observing the safety parameters and ensuring
adequate provision for universal participation of all the categories of
students, any decision to continue the education and academic process is legal
It is any case a settled law, that Courts generally do not
interfere with decision by academic authorities, unless such decision is
arbitrary and devoid of reasons.
Having said that our Government needs to take up significant
measures for holistic inclusion of our fellow DIVYANGJANS, because we accept it
or no, they really feel marginalised even today. Educational Institutions have
been mandated to frame Equal Opportunity Policy to encourage social inclusion.
However, not all have come up with the same.
We have moved some steps, but we have to go far towards their
The Delhi High Court taking cognizance of
petition by National Federation of the Blind, who have been asked to appear for
the Online Examinations of the Delhi University has directed UGC, Central
Government and the Delhi University to consider their grievances and find a
solution for such blind students.