The Karnataka High Court authorizes KSLU to conduct examinations for a 3-year course; Rescinds single bench order that rescinded notice of review

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday quashed the Single Judge’s Bench Order dated December 14, 2021, by which the court had quashed the notice issued by the Karnataka State Law University, by which it was to conduct offline exams for 2nd and 4th semester students of a three-year law degree course.

A dividing bench of Justice SG Pandit and Judge Anant Ramanath Hegde while allowing the intra-judicial appeal filed by Karnataka State Law University, said: “In the best interests of legal education. The following order, written appeal is granted. The order of 12/14/2021 adopted in written petition no. 104008/2021, is hereby set aside.”

He added, “The University is responsible for determining the mode of examination i.e. online, offline, open book examinations, test assessment as suggested by the Bar Council of India, in its press release dated 06/10/2021 and other relevant documents, within 10 days from the date the order is placed online.”

The court also said, “Following the making of the decision as stated above, the Respondent University to take immediate steps to complete the examination/assessment procedure for the second and fourth semesters, for the three-year LLB course. The university will ensure that the time interval prescribed by the rules, if any, for conducting the examination/assessment.”

The single judge bench of Judge Hemant Chandangoudar in its order dated December 14, 2021 had ordered that the students be promoted to the next semester. The Court said: “The University is invited to promote the applicants to the following semester in light of the order made by this Court in document WPNo.14389/2020, decided on 08.02.2021. It is specified that this order is limited to students on the three-year LLB course.”

He also found the Bar Council of India’s thesis that the degrees of students who have been promoted will not be accepted to be untenable.

The court had given the guidelines while disposing of a motion filed by Mahanatesh and others, students pursuing 2nd and 4th semesters in three-year LL.B courses at KSLU affiliated colleges. Following which KSLU challenged the order on appeal to the Divisional Bench.

The tribunal had also observed that “based on data collected by the university which indicates that the majority of students did not own the laptop/desktop computer nor did they have access to internet facilities, it is underserved. understood that an effective education has not been provided to the applicants as well as the majority of the students,” the judiciary observed, adding that this is the most important factor to consider when making the decision. to hold examinations, adding that holding examinations without properly conducted lessons would be detrimental to the interests of the applicants and that they could not suffer through no fault of their own.

The court also considered the fact that the UGC issued exam guidelines in view of the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2021, in which exams for semester/middle-year students were waived and students were promoted to the following semester on an internal basis. assessment and previous semesters as suggested in the 2020 guidelines. However, the guidelines for the conduct of examinations were subject to advice/directives issued by the other statutory bodies including the Bar Council of India .

In addition, the Bar Council of India, after constituting a committee of experts and obtaining their advice, has decided to administer examinations to students in the middle and final years. However, the respective universities were given free rein to determine the mode of examination through online/offline/blended/online open-book (OBE) examination/assignment-based assessment (ABE) ) / research papers. In line with the advice issued by the Bar Council of India, the Respondent – ​​University has taken the decision to hold examinations for all semesters including the final semester.

The tribunal had observed that, “The Respondent – University having been given carte blanche to determine the mode of examination was obliged to take into account all the factors relevant to the conduct of the examinations in view of the COVID-19 pandemic in Classes.”

Going through the proceedings of the University’s expert committee report, the Court said: “An analysis of the proceedings indicates that the expert committee decided to conduct examinations only in offline mode, collecting data with the respective law schools…. The committee was required to consider not only the possibility of conducting examinations, but also to determine the other mode of examination, i.e. book examination open and homework-based assessment/research was given to students, including the petitioners, which is probably the most important relevant factor.The Committee, without regard to the relevant factor, has decided to carry out examinations.

Then the bench had observed that the duration of each semester is of a duration of four months. Admittedly, the courses of the respective semesters lasted only three months.

“The Petitioners at paragraphs 3-5 of the Brief Motion Brief specifically argued that effective education was not provided. In view of the fact that the online courses would have been provided for a period of three months, is implied that the applicants did not have access to the library which is a reservoir of knowledge and that the library helps the applicants to do better in the exam by reading various books,” the court said in its order.

Stating that other students at the university were exempted from sitting exams and were promoted to the next semester based on their previous performance, the tribunal said: “Although the issue of discrimination can only be between equal as held by the Division Bench of this Court in WA No. 1245/2021. However, the university which has the right to choose the mode of conduct of examinations under Sections 9 and 10 of KSLU and also to forego conducting exams due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was necessary to apply one’s mind wisely before taking a call to conduct exams in offline mode.”

Accordingly, he held that “the decision taken by the University without taking into account relevant factors for the conduct of examinations in offline mode is arbitrary in view of the fact that an effective education was not provided to the applicants , which is the basic requirement for applicants to write the exam.”

He concluded by saying that “applicants who are unprepared for misconduct on their part cannot be compelled to come to examinations with fear in their minds of failing the examinations”.

Case Title: Karnataka State Law University v. mahantesh

Case No: WA 100319/2021

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 48

Order date: February 15, 2022

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