New Delhi, August 4: Inappropriately dressed students and their messages popping up on the screen during the video conferencing hearing on online final year exams to be conducted by Delhi University irked the Delhi High Court on Tuesday which directed them to switch off their cameras and mikes. 

As a matter of practice, apart from the judge and the arguing counsel, others have to keep their mikes and cameras off during the video conference proceedings being conducted by courts in view of the persisting coronavirus pandemic.

Justice Prathiba M Singh asked the students to switch off their cameras as they were not “appropriately dressed” to attend the court proceedings, NDTV reported.

Several messages kept popping up in the chat box from the students. One of them read: “I HATE DELHI UNIVERSITY! I am being punished for choosing Delhi University as my college.”

When the court enquired who was sending these messages and who gave them the link to attend the hearing, the advocate representing various petitioners said they must be students. He claimed that he had not given links to them and they could have taken it from the court master. Thereafter, the advocate left a message in the chat box, asking the students to turn their cameras and mikes.

On queries by the court to the counsel of the parties regarding the total marks each paper consist of, the students left various messages in the chat box. While one said “Lady ship for the information of the court, for LL.B, it is 3 hours, including the time of uploading and scanning the papers and 100 marks paper consisting of 4 questions of 25 marks each”, the other read as “Your ladyship, DU considers LLB as a PG course and we have to answer 100 marks question paper in 2 hours” and “In normal conditions of UG, even 75 marks paper have 3 hours.”

The court was hearing a plea challenging DU’s decision to hold online Open Book Examinations (OBE), as per the UGC guidelines, for final year undergraduate courses which will be in long form exams.

During the hearing, Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the University Grants Commission (UGC), submitted that for final year, majority of assessment cannot be internal based. He said so far as final year exams are concerned, they have to be timed and can be online, offline or blended mode but they cannot be presentation based. The UGC has explained the sanctity attached to written examination in the academic world, he added.

Advocate Akash Sinha, appearing for the petitioners Anupam and others, argued that those students who do not have Internet facilities have not been able to sit for mock tests and they would sit for the main exam directly on August 10.

He said there are students who have stable Internet but some are stuck in containment zones and flooded areas and contended that OBE violates students’ right to livelihood as job due to delay the job offers are being taken away and students in other universities are way ahead of them.

Advocate Shivankar Sharma, appearing for an intervener, said the onus is to only show how OBE was chosen without any basis and it is not even an online mode of exam but a blended one as students have to click pictures of the answers and then upload. He claimed that the decision was arbitrary and without any application of mind and the students were not heard by the task force.

The court heard the arguments advanced by the counsel for UGC, petitioners and intervener and listed the matter for hearing submissions of Delhi University on Wednesday.

DU is scheduled to hold final year undergraduate online OBE from August 10-31 and the students who will be left out of online exams will be given an opportunity to appear in physical examinations, to be held sometime in September.

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