Don’t DU students deserve a special chance?

  • Jeevan Prakash Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 09, 2015 18:02 IST
Was it difficult for DU to maintain old data such as marksheets? (HT photo)

Should students get a chance to complete their degree courses if they have been unable to do so during their academic session?

Despite Delhi high court’s (HC) orders in November 2014 to Delhi University (DU) to discuss the matter of giving a ‘special chance’ to its students to finish their

courses at the university’s Academic Council (AC) meeting and pass a resolution, nothing has happened.

Hundreds of DU students have been unable to complete their undergraduate courses within the stipulated maximum period of six years for one reason or the other. Before

2012, DU used to grant students one last chance or special chance to appear one last time at any point of time in their career to pass the remaining paper or papers.

However, on October 10, 2012, the DU registrar issued a notification declaring that “applications for grant of ‘special chance’ beyond the stipulated span periods shall not be considered by the University.”

Deprived of a last opportunity to complete their degree courses, some students had challenged the notification in the Delhi high court, arguing that it (the notification) was issued by the DU registrar and upheld by the vice chancellor whereas as per the ordinance of Delhi University only the AC was empowered to take such decisions.

The high court had enquired as to why the DU vice chancellor had not consulted the AC before the registrar’s notification and ordered DU to discuss the issue at its AC meeting and pass a resolution within three months from the date of the order, ie, November 27, 2014.

Nandita Narain, president, Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), says, “We had raised the issue earlier and the University had formed a three-member committee to look into the matter, but as far as we know the committee hasn’t given any recommendation yet. There has always been unanimity among the elected members of the AC on the issue of giving a special chance to students but we don’t know what other members think because the AC hasn’t discussed the matter.”

According to Narain , the then vice chancellor Dinesh Singh had not allowed the AC to deliberate on the issue despite requests by members to do so. Now, in a recent move, Narain has written a letter in support of the special chance and circulated it among AC members for their signatures. “We are trying to generate as much support as possible and after that we will send it to the acting VC with a request to comply with the Delhi HC order,” she says.

Another AC member, Sanjay Kumar, says the purpose of scrapping the 37-year-old practice of special chance was to minimise the burden on DU’s examination department, which found it ‘cumbersome’ to maintain old data such as marksheets etc. What’s more surprising is that Prof Dinesh Singh, who implemented the controversial four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) had advocated a provision in it to give students the option to come back within ten years to complete their graduation if they had not done so after spending two years in a programme.

A student who took the case to the Delhi HC, Love Aggarwal, asks: “How can a University talk about flexibility in degree courses in one programme and do just the opposite in another? It’s very surprising and shows that maintaining of academic standards was not the reason why special chance was denied to students. It was something else.”

While examining the merits and demerits of special chance, the Delhi HC had said that “As far as the University of Delhi is concerned, what we find strange is that the same Ordinance X-C {which allowed AC to grant the special chance}, for nearly 35 years, was construed/interpreted by the University itself as empowering the Academic

Council to relax/grant exemption in exceptional cases vis-a-vis span period. No material has been placed before us as to what caused the change in interpretation. The ordinary rule is, for an interpretation/practice long in vogue, being not disturbed, as consistency, trust, logical and valid and fair regularity are essential elements of public law.” Aggarwal with many other students have decided now to move the Supreme Court.

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