Indian Campus

Mumbai University cannot refuse extra answer sheets to students: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court has recently issued an interim order directing Mumbai University to ensure that students are provided with “supplements” if they require it to complete their answers.

After Mumbai University prohibited the students from asking for extra sheets, the Bombay High Court issued an interim order directing the varsity to ensure that students are provided with “supplements” if they require it to complete their answers.

Moreover, a bench of Justices BR Gavai and BP Colabawalla said that while the University had prohibited the students from asking for extra sheets, or “supplements” as they are called, to avoid problems in its online assessment system, the students could not be penalised for its “erroneous” decision.

Here’s what the bench of Justices said:

“We have come across several matters where students are suffering on account of erroneous decisions by the university.”

“Several petitions have been filed in court alleging that their supplementary answer sheets were lost by the university, and they had thus, lost out on marks. The university gave such students marks based on the principle of averages only after the court intervened,” the bench added.

“Hence, it appears that the university has now come up with the novel idea that if there are no supplements there won’t be any question of supplements being lost,” the bench said in a recent PTI report.

Petition by a final year law student:

According to reports, the Bombay High Court bench was hearing a petition filed by Manasi Bhushan, who is a final year student of Law.

In the petition, the student was challenging a circular issued by the university in October this year saying that students will not be provided supplements or additional answer sheets during exams.

Her counsel, advocate Vishal Kanade had argued that the university must fix the problems in its online assessment process instead of denying supplements to students.

Also, he had also said that students, especially those who were studying law, often needed to write longer, more subjective answers and thus needed supplements.

Opinion of Mumbai University:

The university had argued that all answer sheet booklets issued have separate bar codes, and since the main answer sheet booklets and the supplements booklets had different barcodes, confusion occurred during their online assessment.

In several cases, the main booklet and the supplements of one student were marked assuming they belonged to different students, and in other cases several supplementary sheets had also been misplaced, the university said.

Therefore, the university authorities had decided to direct the students to limit their answers to the 37-page long main answer booklet in all exams.

Bombay High Court rejects university’s argument:

The bench, however, rejected the university’s argument that the main answer booklet was enough for all students to complete their answers.

It was “common knowledge” that the handwriting of every student was different, and while some students might not even use up the entire main answer booklet, other students might need extra sheets, the bench said.

“The idea is that students are provided with as many pages as required to complete their answers. Now whether you provide them loose sheets or another booklet is up to you,” it said.

“Effectively, we cannot allow the university’s last minute decisions to prejudice the rights of the students,” the bench added.

No scope for the HC to intervene in its decisions:

Furthermore, the bench also rejected the university claim that there was no scope for the HC to intervene in its decisions and said, “While we’ll deal with this (the above argument) during the final hearing, can’t allow the university to prejudice students. The university’s circular, a piece of paper, can’t be considered as a piece of delegated legislation.”