The Delhi High Court has asked final year undergraduate and postgraduate visually impaired students of Delhi University (DU) to endeavour to sit for the open book online exam and said the cost of any book or assistive device they buy for the examination shall be reimbursed up to Rs two lakh.
A bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon further directed that as and when a second round of open book exam is held, which as per DU would be in September, the visually impaired students would be entitled to appear in them to improve their score even if they have taken the first round of exams which will start from July 2.
The directions, among several, were issued by the high court while hearing a plea by the National Federation of the Blind challenging the DU's decision to hold open book examinations on the ground that it violated rights of students with visual impairments and other disabilities.
The Federation wanted DU to assess performance of the disabled students of final year on the basis of their performance in previous semester and internal assessment.
In the alternative, it suggested holding offline exams for such students after colleges reopen.
While listing the matter for further hearing on July 13, the bench in its order of June 17 directed the DU, UGC and Centre to file their replies to the petition before the next date.
It further directed that "the visually impaired students may approach their respective institutes/colleges for any assistance required, including provision of reading material/text books in accessible form and assistive devices.
"Upon any student so approaching the institute/college of DU, the said institute and/or college is directed to supply the reading material/ text books in accessible form and the assistive devices."
The high court also said that if any visually impaired student approaches the DU for assistance in arranging a scribe, to take their examination, the varsity has to "make best efforts" for arranging the same.
It also made it clear that merely because the visually impaired students participated in the open book examination scheduled to commence from July 2, would not disentitle them to the relief, if ultimately granted, of assessment on the basis of performance in the earlier semester and /or on the basis of internal assessment.
"The DU and all its affiliate institutes/colleges are directed to, notwithstanding the aforesaid, as and when approached by any visually impaired students for any assistance, to render all such assistance and in the event of any such assistance being denied, such visually impaired students may contact Prof. Vinay Gupta, Dean (Examination) of DU in that respect," the high court said.
The high court had earlier said it was not going to interfere with DU''s decision to hold open book exams as the varsity has also decided to hold offline physical exams, once the present COVID-19 situation improves, for those students who could not participate in the examinations commencing from July 1.