Why should contempt proceedings not be initiated, High Court asks DU

New Delhi: Amid protests against the online open book exams notified by the Delhi University, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday fumed over the varsity's decision to postpone the examinations by 10 days without informing it and issued a notice to the university, asking it to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against it.

A bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Subramoniun Prasad was furious that they found out about the postponement only on June 27 from news reports while dictating an order disposing of a petition based on DU's submission that it was ready to start the OBE from July 1.

While the varsity submitted that they had found the need to postpone the examinations after it was revealed to them that the Deputy Registrar's (Secrecy) mother had tested positive for COVID-19 only at 2:20 pm on June 26 and that their whole family was to be put in quarantine, the high court refused to accept this explanation.

"If the stand of the respondent No.4/Delhi University is correct that because a family member of Deputy Registrar (Secrecy) had gone down with COVID-19 and the University came to know that the entire family had to be quarantined only after the matter was over then there was enough time for Delhi University to have reverted back to this Court on the same day or at least the next morning and apprise us". However, "this did not happen," the court said.

The bench added, "In view of the aforesaid conduct, we are prima facie of the opinion that contempt proceedings ought to be initiated against the Delhi University and its officers for withholding material information from the court and trying to mislead the court." It has listed the matter for hearing on July 6.

The petition had also sought that directions be issued to the Centre for setting up an effective mechanism for visually impaired and specially-abled persons so that educational instructions can be transmitted to them properly and teaching material is provided to them through online mode of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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