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The Delhi High Court has taken significant steps to address concerns raised by law students regarding the inadequate availability of basic amenities and infrastructure at Delhi University’s Faculty of Law. The court has instructed DU to convene a meeting with all relevant stakeholders within a week to evaluate and improve the situation.

In a recent order, Justice Amit Sharma directed the university to hold a meeting involving key stakeholders, including the Dean of Students’ Welfare, the Dean of the Faculty of Law, the petitioners, and the amicus curiae, advocate Rajesh Mishra, who was appointed by the court. The focus of this meeting will be to assess the facilities, particularly the provision of water coolers, purified drinking water, and Wi-Fi services.

The petition was filed by three law students, Ronak Khatri, Umesh Kumar, and Ankur Singh Mavi, who cited severe deficiencies in the basic amenities on their campus. One of their primary concerns was the lack of air conditioning in classrooms, which makes the learning environment unbearable during Delhi’s extreme summer temperatures, which can reach up to 48 degrees Celsius. The students noted a stark contrast between the air-conditioned administrative offices and staff rooms and their own poorly ventilated classrooms.

Additionally, the petition highlighted that one of the campus buildings, constructed with tin roofs and asbestos-lined walls, exacerbates the heat issue, creating an uninhabitable learning environment. They reported instances of heat strokes and fainting, illustrating the dire need for improved infrastructure.

Moreover, the student petitioners argued that the inadequate infrastructure and lack of essential amenities constitute a violation of their fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and, by extension, the right to education. They stressed that the current conditions pose significant safety risks and are not conducive to learning.

Justice Sharma’s bench issued notices to the Secretary of the Bar Council of India (BCI) and DU’s Dean of Students’ Welfare, seeking their responses to the petition. The court emphasized the necessity of a detailed assessment and required a report on the current status of facilities to be submitted before the next hearing on July 4, 2024.

The court also pointed out the importance of this meeting being well-coordinated by the respondents’ counsel to ensure a comprehensive evaluation and prompt improvement of the facilities.

While the respondents’ counsel informed the court that provisions for water coolers and drinking water are in place, the court’s directive underscores the need for a thorough review to confirm that these amenities meet the required standards and adequately serve the student population.

The forthcoming report from the stakeholders’ meeting will be critical in determining the actions DU will take to address these significant concerns and uphold the students’ rights.

Read Also: Dalit Student Faces Online Harassment and Threats Over WhatsApp Status

Featured Image Credits: The Times of India

Kavya Vashisht

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The High Court (HC) ruled in favour of the petitioner and stated that the University could not unfairly reject admissions of deserving students because of the inconsistency in its own information bulletin.

In a recent ruling, the Delhi High Court called out the University of Delhi for arbitrarily cancelling a student’s enrollment. The case goes back to the previous term, 2022–23, when a student was denied admission to Kirori Mal College (KMC) in the B.A. Hons Geography programme offered by Delhi University (DU) on the grounds of “non-fulfilment of subject mapping criteria.”

Since last year, admissions to many central universities, including Delhi University (DU), have taken place through the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) (UG)-2022. The eligibility criteria require passing class XII from a recognised board and adhering to programme-specific requirements. In this case, the petitioner opted for English, Hindi, Geography/Geology, History, and Political Science, deviating from specific subject requirements for B.A. (Hons.) Geography.

However, the CUET allowed for flexibility if an individual Central University permitted it and The petitioner argued that, in the absence of ‘English Literature’ as a CUET subject, he opted for ‘History,’ which he considered the closest match to his prior studies. According to Clause 4 of the University’s information bulletin, the student was offered this flexibility.

After the results were announced, the petitioner was allotted a seat in the B.A. Hons Geography programme at Kirori Mal College on October 19, 2022. The seat was accepted by the student, but the University later cancelled his admission, citing “non-fulfilment of subject mapping criteria.”. This lead to a legal dispute.

The University of Delhi challenged the petitioner’s eligibility based on the subjects chosen in CUET. This case was previously presented to a single judge bench presided over by Justice Vikas Mahajan, who held that the University of Delhi had arbitrarily and incorrectly cancelled the petitioner’s seat without any of the petitioner’s fault and violated the terms and conditions outlined in the Bulletin of Information. He also noted that the petitioner was a deserving and meritorious student who had made it to the merit list in the first round of admissions.

The University of Delhi was ordered to admit the petitioner into the B.A. (Hons.) Geography programme at the same institution in the academic year 2023-2024 due to the conclusion of the admission procedure for the previous year.

The single judge’s decision ordering the University to accept the student into the B.A. (Hons.) Geography programme for the academic year 2023–2024 was challenged by DU in a Letters Patent Appeal (LPA) and hence presented to the High Court.

Delhi University was represented by attorneys Mohinder J.S. Rupal, Hardik Rupal, and Sachpreet Kaur, while the respondent student was represented by advocates A. Velan, Navpreet Kaur, Nishant Bishnoi, and Mritunjay Pathak.

The appeal was to reverse the previous judgement because, as per the guidelines, the student was required to give the admission test again to get enrolled for the academic year 2023-2024. The appellant also argued that the ‘DU Exception’ did not apply in this case, and hence the judge cannot link ‘English Literature’ and ‘History’ as similar.

The key concerns of the court were to explore and understand the university guidelines and check whether ‘History’ could be replaced with ‘English literature’ or not. Secondly, the bench considered whether the student could actually be admitted to the term 2023–24 based on the previous judgement.

The court observed that although CUET required students to align with subjects that they took in class XIIth Examination, Clause 4 of the information bulletin permits the students to choose a subject that mirrors their preference in XIIth Board and resembles the programme they wish to pursue further, hence offering a deviation. In this situation, the student had rightly used ‘DU Exception’ with no fault of his own since the university had not released clearer instructions regarding the same. The whole injustice was caused by the ‘narrow interpretation’ of the guidelines.

The University’s denial of admission was hence unreasonable, according to the court, which also determined that the student had properly used the DU Exception. It brought to light the ambiguous criteria for using the DU Exception and the University’s constrained interpretation of its own guidelines.

Delhi University has failed to provide a cogent rationale regarding the perceived dissimilarity between ‘English Literature’ and ‘History’ and overlooked the very essence of the DU Exception. Notably, the University has neither delineated guidelines nor disseminated instructions that clarify the parameters of the DU Exception, such as defining the extent of “similarity” or “closeness” between subjects.

– Read the observations by the bench.

Regarding the second matter of reviewing the single judge’s decision to provide relief to the petitioner, the court referred to the judgement of the Hon‘ble Supreme Court of India in the case of S. Krishna Sradha v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (2020) 17 SCC 465. According to the guidelines of this landmark ruling, if a ‘meritorious’ student has been denied admission on arbitrary grounds or the breach of rules, affecting his or her rights, and has approached the court on time without any delay, he or she should be granted justice to not limit their academic journey. If he or she cannot be provided relief of admission in the present year, the court can direct such admission to the next academic year.

The bench thus favoured the student and mentioned,

The student cannot be held accountable for any delay or negligence. Being an exemplary candidate, he has been unfairly deprived of his admission due to the capricious and unwarranted decisions of the Appellant University.

The Court emphasised the importance of upholding the ideals of fairness, inclusion, and clarity in educational institutions, particularly those with the status of Delhi University. It criticised the absence of clear guidelines for applying the DU Exception, stating that this ambiguity not only leaves students in a state of uncertainty but also makes it difficult to foster clarity in rules and their uniform implementation.

Read also: Shockingly Low Admissions for New B.Tech. Courses at DU

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Priya Agrawal
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The Delhi High Court has finally sought the response of Delhi university, on a student’s plea to seek results of her Economics fifth semester results.

A final year student of Economics hons., Daulat Ram College, Delhi University was accused of cheating in one of her examinations, by carrying some notes in her pouch. The student claimed of appearing in all the examinations and in the ‘International Trade’ exam, held on 3rd December 2019, she got late due to traffic and mistakenly carried some notes in her pouch. She says of informing the invigilator when she realised, and was ready to surrender them, despite which she wasn’t allowed to continue with her exam. Till the time a fresh answer sheet arrived the time for the examination got over.

A show cause notice was issued to her, on 12th March and her entire examinations were cancelled. Agitated by this she filed a petition in court, seeking assessment and result of all the four examinations she appeared for. The student further claimed of making representations to the university but receiving no response in return. She said of getting no hearing before cancelation of her exams, the results of other students of the same course has already been declared. As per the invigilator’s allegation, the girl was indulged in cheating and hence was rightfully debarred.

The university council submitted of the woman not filing any reply to the show cause notice, or seeking a personal hearing. It further said of being under lockdown, hence needing more time for records retrieval, to file before the court. The court considering the woman to be a meritorious student, and admitting of her not receiving any hearing with respect to the show cause notice, declared to consider her request of revealing the results of her other three papers, in the next hearing on 11th May.

“Accordingly, at this stage, the respondent (DU) is permitted to file a counter affidavit along with the relevant documents within a period of two weeks. On the next date, the University of Delhi shall also place in a sealed cover before this court the result of the other three examinations where the petitioner (student) had appeared in her fifth semester,” said justice Pratibha M Singh.

Feature Image Credits: Jagran Josh

Kriti Gupta

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Following a court notification, the officials declared SOL students to write combined first and second-semester examinations, in 2020.

On Monday, 25th November, officials announced that students of Delhi University, School of Open Learning (SOL) will be writing combined examinations for first and second semesters in May-June of 2020, following a notification from High Court (HC) ordered on 21st November. This decision affects the 1.15 lakh students who were admitted to the University this year.

A group of students from SOL had submitted a plea with the Delhi High Court complaining about the unanticipated implementation of the semester-based choice-based credit system (CBCS). Until the previous academic year, the school conducted annual examinations, but with the sudden change on August 17, the students remained unprepared for the semester examinations that were to commence on 24th November.

Pleaders complained that the weekend classes did not begin before 22nd September and had been cancelled “at least three times”. The studying material provided was also “incomplete or illegible”. The Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) has been in the forefront demanding for the semester system to be applied from the following year, so as to allow the students time to get acquainted with the system.

After the Court moved in favour of the students, the Vice Chancellor (VC) submitted a report providing two alternatives- either postpone the first semester to December or combine it with the second semester. The petitioners chose the latter.

The officials from SOL claimed that the students preferred the former choice. Ramesh Bhardwaj, Officer on Special Duty, SOL stated, “We had spoken to thousands of students, and they had said that they preferred the first option… However, we followed the court’s direction.”
A Delhi State Committee member of KYS had stated that the material provided was “so bad” that a month’s delay would not have been sufficient for the students to prepare themselves.

Featured Image Credits: DU Beat

Aditi Gutgutia

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed CBSE and University of Delhi to arrange for a medium for transgenders to attain changes in name and gender, in educational records.

On Wednesday, 20th February 2019, the bench comprising of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao showcased its disapproval to the University of Delhi (DU) and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in declining the change of name and gender for a transgender person. It stated that when the Supreme Court had recognised their gender identity, education bodies must rise to the occasion to help.

The bench was hearing a PIL (Personal Interest Litigation) challenging the guidelines of the Centre, DU, and CBSE for the change of name and gender by a person. The petition has contended that the guidelines under challenge are “depriving her of the right to live with dignity and to self-identify her gender which is different from the one assigned at birth.”

This was not agreeable to both the education bodies as CBSE stated that name and gender needed to be changed before the 10th or the 12th grade, and DU responded by stating that to make changes in the University’s records, changes must be made in the school records.

The High Court disapproved of their stand and responded, “You cannot say its history for you. You keep your history, but give her a certificate declaring her changed name and gender. Give a declaration without changing your records. You should understand the practical problems they suffer. If they apply for a passport now, it will be put in objection due to contradiction in her name and gender no and what is shown in their education records. You need to be considerate. You cannot put everyone in one basket and say you won’t do it.”

The court by stating, “let us work out what can be done” further assured the petitioner that her right to gender identity was a Constitutional Right recognised by the Apex Court. It instructed both the statutory bodies to come with solutions with respect to the problem and listed this case for further hearing on 13th March 2019.

Image Credits: World Politics Review

Stephen Mathew

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Anushree Joshi

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(With inputs from The New Indian Express)

 

 

On 18th May, the Delhi High Court refused to grant relaxation to a second-year law student from taking her fourth semester examination which commenced on 16th May due to low attendance. The Bar Council of India mandates at least 70% attendance for its professional course, but Ms. Ankita Meena could not attend classes in the fourth semester because of her advanced pregnancy.
Her lawyer stated that she was a regular and diligent student who could not attend classes due to health issues and the birth of her child but the Court refused to grant the relief in lieu of the provisions of Rules of Legal Education of the Bar Council of India and other High Court decisions. The student had relied on an ordinance of a chapter of the University of Delhi which reads, “in the case of a married woman student who is granted maternity leave, in calculating the total number of lectures delivered in the College or in the University, as the case may be, for her course of study in each academic year, the number of lectures in each subject delivered during the period of her maternity leave shall not be taken into account.” The petitioner had not applied for a maternity leave.
While speaking to a reputed newspaper, the Judge declared that once Rule 12 of Rules of Legal Education of the BCI prescribes a mandatory attendance of 70 per cent in each semester of LLB, no reliance can be placed on Rule 2 (9) (d) of Ordinance VII of Chapter III of Delhi University, which is a general provision that does not deal with a professional course like LLB.
The student’s counsels Ashish Virmani and Himanshu Dhuper then approached the apex court on 22nd May on an urgent basis but Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Navin Sinha denied her plea to appear for an exam on Wednesday afternoon. The Court sought the arguments of the University’s Council, who appeared before the court at 1 p.m. and by the time the hearing would have concluded, the exam would have gotten over which was at 2 p.m. on 23rd May.

However, The Supreme Court bench granted the liberty to the petitioner to seek the decision of Division Bench of Delhi High Court, where the case is already pending.

 

Feature Image Credits: India.com

Prachi Mehra
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Recently the Delhi High Court acquitted Peepli Live co-director Mahmood Farooqui, in what seems to be a travesty of a judgement by the judiciary. Feminists and conscientious citizens alike have been outraged.

What has been the case so far: The judgment by Justice Ashutosh Kumar holds that in the modern world where equality is the “buzzword” and where both men and women are “initiators” of sexual acts, consent should not be mere hesitation or reluctance, but a clear and unambiguous “no”. In short, there is no room for a feeble “no”.

“The judgment creates a new defense for the rapist which does not exist in law. There is a double presumption – absence of intention to rape (by the accused) and non-communication by the woman despite a clear ‘no’ from her. The judgment has turned the definition of consent on its head. What was meant to protect the woman has been made into a defense for the rapist. The judgment is dangerous and will allow no conviction for rape at all,” is how Former Additional Solicitor General and noted human rights lawyer Indira Jaising reacted to the judgement. With its head-turning judgement, the judiciary has again established the rigidity of the conservative legal framework. What we are then left with, are the age-old stereotypes of an ideal rape victim, real rape, real resistance, and true consent. What the courts have refused to take into account in their judicial interpretation is that there is no feeble no. A no, in any form of hesitation and resistance is a no.

On the evening of the assault, the facts are these: We know that she went to his house believing they would all be going for a wedding. She found herself alone with a drunk Farooqui and his male friend.  We know she was concerned both about Farooqui’s state of inebriation and his mental health because she called his friend so that he was not left on his own. She wanted to leave soon after arriving. However, Ashish Singh, a friend of Farooqui, asked her to stay back since his wife had not returned, as if being a female friend somehow obligated her to provide “care” for him by “feeding him” in his wife’s absence (pp 4 of the verdict). Despite the fact that she had called a Meru cab (3 times) to leave his home and when the driver couldn’t find the location, she was willing to leave in a rickshaw, she was prevented from doing so by Ashish Singh, using the ruse that it would be unsafe for her to do so. But the judgement still does not take into consideration these interesting aspects into believing that she clearly didn’t consent or was interested in having sexual intercourse with Farooqui. Because c’mon, you wouldn’t want to leave a house so desperately if you wanted to have sex with its resident.

What the judiciary has carefully dissected is the relationship between the accused and the survivor, which it rightly should. it appears that Farooqui and the survivor had multiple interactions usually in the presence of other people. During many of these instances, Farooqui is described as being drunk and there are two mentions of consensual kissing. It isn’t unfair to discern that they may have been casual flirtation between the two. But that is on no account justifiable, nor does it excuse non-consensual sex at any later date.

There is a brilliant animation that uses a cup of tea to explain the concept of consent, and yes, it is as simple as that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQbei5JGiT8

Consent is a constantly negotiated process. Women can consent to certain sexual acts and not others. They can start to have sex but withdraw consent at any time during the act if they are uncomfortable. The judiciary’s stand also reflects the twisted ways in which the larger society creates the definition of consent. There simply aren’t any grey areas between a consensual sexual act and rape. An individual’s hesitation and resistance echoes as loud as a vehement utterance of ‘no’. Just because a woman wasn’t supposedly resolute enough during the act, or preceding the act for reasons which could very well involve fear, does not equate to being ‘playful’ or being a ‘tease’.

In this case, the focus has been conveniently shifted from what the woman said, to what the man understood, illustrating how problematically, the terms of consent can be twisted.

Feature Image Credits: Feminism in India

 

Ankita Dhar Karmakar

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The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, asked the Law Faculty of the University of Delhi (DU) to scrap its policy of clubbing two categories.

 

Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, ordered the Law Faculty of the University of Delhi (DU) to fill the vacant 301 seats for the LLB course, based on the petition filed by a group of students who failed to get admission in the last academic year (2016-17), due to the varsity’s step of clubbing the 2,310 seats with 301 seats that are actually meant for the “supernumerary candidates”.

On 28th June, the court had passed an order permitting the admission of the 2,310 students, oblivious of the fact that the university had “erroneously included” the reserved seats as well.

The “supernumerary candidates” fall under a third category that includes Persons with Disabilities (PWD), Children and Widows of Armed Forces (CW) and the Foreign Nationals (FN). As reported to The Indian Express, the bench consisting of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar were quoted saying, “It is submitted that DU was required to admit 301 candidates in the reserved categories as supernumeraries over and above 2,310 seats”. It also came to their notice that this admission process has been in existence and in practice since the year 2008.

“It appears that this submission is incomplete….as the undisputed factual position placed before us is that since 2008 till 2015-16, DU was admitting 2,310 students as well as additional supernumerary candidates for the PWD/CW/FN”, the bench noted.

Furthermore, according to report, the cut-off date of 31st of August will not come as a restriction to the admission of the concerned candidates.

Feature Image Credit- The Indian Express

 

Shrija Ganguly

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On Thursday, the Delhi High Court directed the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) to accept all applications for re-evaluation. This is the result of a plea that was filed by students against CBSE challenging their notification, dated 28th June that imposed conditions on re-evaluation of mark sheets that students were only allowed to submit applications for up to 10 subjects and up to 10 theory questions per subject. A bench, including Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, was hearing to this plea. The CBSE notification also mentioned that a revised mark sheet will only be issued if there is an increase of 5 or more marks, which the counsel called “arbitrary”.

The bench said, directing the board: “It cannot be denied that grave and irreparable loss/damage would be caused to the petitioners as far as their admissions to colleges are concerned,” and that the relief would be “admissible to all similarly situated students who seek reevaluation of their answer sheets.”

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on 26th July, issuing notice to the Centre, CBSE and Delhi University.

Image credits: livelaw.in

Anagha Rakta
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On May 31st, the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Centre, the University of Delhi (DU), and the Bar Council of India (BCI), seeking direction not to reduce the LLB seats in the University. The current intake of students is 2,310. Thus, the Delhi High Court asked the BCI to consider DU’s representation for increasing the seats in its LLB course and to take a decision by the evening of June 6th.

DU had sought permission to increase its seats for the law course, claiming it had improved its infrastructure and increased the strength of its teaching faculty. The Bench observed that the BCI had not capped the seats due to the lack of infrastructure, and therefore its improvement wouldn’t entitle DU to seek an increase in seats offered for the course. It, however, allowed DU to advertise for only 1,440 seats for its law course, like last year and said it would be subjected to the outcome of a plea seeking an increase of seats to 2,310. The order came during a hearing of a petition by lawyer Joginder Kumar Sukhija, who claimed that many students, especially graduates, would be affected if the seats were reduced. The petition added that by reducing the number of seats, the public money, which is used to provide a grant to DU, was not being put to optimal use.

Last year, the DU students protested after reports surfaced on the suggestion by the BCI to trim down the number of seats for admission to the 2016-17 batches for LLB seats at the three law centers. Since 2014, the Law Faculty has been in trouble with the BCI for not following the council’s rules regarding infrastructure support and student intake.

The PIL sought a direction to strike down the clause 5 A of Schedule-III of Rules of Legal Education 2008 enacted by the BCI, claiming it was capricious and in blatant violation of fundamental rights. Under Rule 5 A, a law college can admit only 300 students each year. As the varsity has three law centers, it can have a total of 900 seats only. But, as an exception, BCI has allowed the varsity to admit additional 180 seats per center for reserved categories, the lawyers’ body told the court. Hence, the law aspirants are hoping for an increase in the number of seats in DU. After all, 2000 students should be accommodated if adequate infrastructure is made available to those aspiring to enroll in the varsity.

 

Feature Image Credits: Bar & Bench

 

Radhika Boruah

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