The Delhi High Court today quashed a Delhi University Law Faculty notice which said that only fifth and sixth semester students will be allowed to sit for supplementary exams after their regular tests, as it applied retrospectively to students who were admitted before the academic year 2017-18.
The court clarified that it has not interfered with the applicability of the October 9 last year's notice to students who had taken admission after the academic year 2016-17, since they had adequate notice and ample opportunity to plan their academic and examination schedules as per the changed rules regarding supplementary examinations.
Justice Rekha Palli said the notice, which was applied retrospectively to the students who took admission prior to the academic year 2017-18, was "wholly arbitrary" and was quashed it to that extent.
"In my opinion, the students who had taken admission before the academic year 2017-18 deserve at least one opportunity to take their supplementary examinations as per the unamended ordinance. Accordingly, the University of Delhi is directed to grant one opportunity to all the students of the LLB course, who had taken admission prior to the academic year 2017-18, to take their supplementary examinations as per the unamended rules/ordinance contained in notification dated November 14, 2014," the judge said.
The LLB course is of three years consisting of six semesters with provision for appearing in supplementary to clear backlogs. It gives student an opportunity to appear in a paper which he or she was not been able to clear in the first attempt.
According to the 2017 notice changing the rules for appearing in the supplementary exam, a final year student, at the end of the regular examination, can appear in supplementary exam only in papers of V and VI semester that have been not cleared in the first attempt.
However for any paper of I, II, III and IV semesters that is not cleared and carried till the last year, the student would have to wait for at least six months to one year to clear it, and that too in his or her capacity as an ex-student.
The high court allowed a batch of petitions by several final-year law students challenging the 2017 notice and said it was a settled legal position that a law or an amendment cannot operate retrospectively to divest a person of his/her vested legal rights.
Advocate Vikram Hegde, respresenting the petitioners, and Sunil Kumar Singh, final-year law student who appeared in person, said the notice has entirely changed the structure and scheme of the LLB course to the petitioners' detriment, at a belated stage and in an arbitrary manner.
Advocate Mohinder J S Rupal, appearing for the Delhi University, said the notice and the amended rules pertaining to supplementary examinations were applicable only from October 22, 2017 and were in no way retrospective in nature.
He said merely because the notice and the amended rules mentioned therein are also applicable to students who had taken admission in the academic years prior to 2017-18, they cannot be said to be retrospective in nature.
The court, while deciding the matter, said the university has failed to consider the effect of the 2017 notice on the students who had already planned their examination schedules for two years as per the notification of November 14, 2014.
There was no justification for taking away the rights of the students to take their supplementary examinations as per the unamended ordinance and that too, at such a belated stage, it said.
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