The Karnataka High Court today sought the response of the State government in a plea challenging the decision of Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) to conduct end semester exams this year in offline mode.
While issuing notice, the Bench of Justice R Devdas orally commented,
“It is not for this Court to take this kind of decision. Officers of the University have taken a decision as per the Standard Operating Procedure issued by the Central and State government”.
The Single Bench further added that even the High Court was conducting offline exams for civil judges at present.
When the matter was taken up for hearing today, petitioner Advocate Tanvi Dubey submitted that the plea does not seek for cancellation of all exams, but only for offline exams.
Dubey further informed the Bench that there is no social distancing among students in their hostels and messes.
The plea states that VTU issued a notification dated October 19 informing students that it proposed to conduct supplementary exams and first year exams online.
Subsequently, on December 9, VTU issued another notification mandating the conduct of end semester exams for all colleges across the State in offline mode.
In response, around 1,373 students wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of VTU highlighting the various difficulties that could crop up if exams were held offline.
It is the petitioners’ case that the decision to conduct exams offline is completely arbitrary, impractical and fails to consider the various concerns of the students. The plea states,
“That the decision to conduct exams offline is completely an afterthought and is an arbitrary decision, which totally fails to take into consideration the life-threatening risks posed to the students. It is pertinent to note that many students have travelled their respective hometowns. Several students are currently in abroad. Therefore, the conduct of the examination in an offline mode, will entail all these students to travel back to their college in Bangalore, which will be a huge threat to the life of thousands of students, teachers and their family members.”
The plea further raises alarm over the fact that the December 9 notification was issued at a time when cases of the new variant of COVID-19 were reported in the country.
In this light, the decision of VTU to conduct offline exams is violative of the right to health envisaged under Article 21 as well as Article 14, the students claim.
The matter is expected to be taken up next week.