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Online Open Book Exam to begin from August 17, DU tells HC

The said affidavit has been filed in a batch of petitions led by one Anup, challenging the seeking of cancellation of examinations in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Delhi University

New Delhi, July 13 : The Delhi University has informed the Delhi High Court that the online Open Book Examination (OBE) for final year students of all undergraduate and postgraduate courses, including School of Open Learning (SOL) and Non Collegiate Women”s Education Board (NCWEB), will commence from August 17.

In its affidavit filed before the court, the Delhi University has stated that the examinations would begin on August 17 and conclude on September 8.

“For such students who are unable to appear in the examinations in OBE mode remotely, it has been decided to conduct an additional phase of examinations through online/offline/blended mechanism, for the purpose of providing another opportunity to the students,” the DU said in its affidavit.

In its more than 160-page affidavit, the varsity informed the court that it would be conducting mock tests in two phases in order to make the students familiar with the OBE mode.

While the first phase of the mock tests would be held from July 31 to August 4, the second phase would be held from August 8 to August 12. There would be three sessions of mock tests per day in both the phases.

The university also made it clear that the facilities available in the colleges and the departments of the university will be made accessible to the students belonging to the persons with disabilities (PWD) category in general, and visually impaired (VI) in particular, so that the ICT infrastructure is available to the students with prior information during the scheduled examinations in OBE mode to be conducted remotely.

“Preparation will also be made for the conduct of another additional round of examinations (in online/ offline / blended mode) for those students who are unable to take the examinations to be held from August 17,” the affidavit said.

Evaluation of answer sheets would begin from the first week of September and will continue till the first week of October.

“The university will make best efforts to declare the results expeditiously. However, depending upon the number of students appearing for the OBE, it is expected that the declaration of results for different courses shall start from the first week of October and conclude latest by November 30,” the varsity said.

The said affidavit has been filed in a batch of petitions led by one Anup, challenging the seeking of cancellation of examinations in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the last hearing, a division bench of the high court presided over by Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad had directed the Delhi University to draw up a plan for conducting examinations for final year students.

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Delhi HC declines to entertain plea seeking waiver of school fees

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Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a PIL seeking waiver of tuition fees charged by schools for the month of August amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A division bench of the court presided by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan refused to entertain the petition after noting that another Public Interest Litigation (PIL) with similar prayers was dismissed by the court earlier.

“This is clear misconduct of the court proceedings,” said the two-judge bench while expressing displeasure over not being appraised about the said dismissal. Following which the petitioner and counsel N. Pradeep Sharma sought withdrawal of the said petition and also tendered an apology.

The petition filed by Naresh Kumar while citing the interpretation of the force majeure clause in the present pandemic situation and sought waiver of the school fees.

It is a contractual provision allocating the risk of loss if performance becomes impossible or impracticable, especially as a result of an event that the parties could not have anticipated or controlled. A force majeure clause provides temporary reprieve to a party from performing its obligations under a contract upon occurrence of a force majeure event.

The petition states that the impact of the deadly coronavirus is developing day by day and supply chains are being significantly disrupted and businesses’ rights and obligations under contracts are coming into sharp focus.

“The students are facing several side effects and such online classes offered by schools have other medical and psychological implications which is against the concept of school education,” the plea said while adding that private school administrations have been demanding school fees and other charges without rendering any services.

It further said that the school admission form does not have any clause that in case of an adverse situation, the school would charge tuition fees for providing online classes. “The schools are duty-bound to follow and abide by the terms and conditions which are a part of school prospectus and if there is no force majeure clause in the school prospectus, demanding of tuition fee, without providing the actual education, is a violation of law in terms of a contract and also against the principle of natural justice,” the petitioner said.

“Some homework and class tests are required to be undertaken under the guidance of trained teachers so as to achieve, through the online way of teaching. It would be important to mention that private schools are either being run by the societies or trusts and are not doing any social service to society. Even otherwise, the school is a service provider and thus is covered under the Consumer Act also,” the plea said.

In April this year, the high court dismissed a petition seeking complete exemption from payment of any fees, including tuition fee, to schools during the period of lockdown (Naresh Kumar vs DoE).

Rejecting the plea, a division bench of the high court presided by Chief Justice Patel and Justice Jalan had then stated, “We cannot agree that during the period of lockdown, or during the period when online education is being provided by the schools, and availed of by students, tuition fees should be exempted.”

“So long as schools are disseminating education online, they are certainly entitled to charge tuition fees,” the bench had remarked while rejecting the contention of the petitioner that no tuition fee could be charged as the schools are “closed”.

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Thin line between free speech, contempt: Supreme Court

In response, Justice Mishra had replied that the court would have to resume the hearing. When Sibal pleaded that he needed time to prepare, Justice Mishra said the court would give him enough time for the purpose.

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Prashant Bhushan Lawyer

New Delhi, Aug 4 : Taking up the 2009 contempt of court case against lawyer Prashant Bhushan, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday that there is a thin line between free speech and contempt, adding that the issue now is how to save the system’s grace and bring the matter to an end as well.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra asked Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing Bhushan, to suggest ways to resolve this matter.

Justice Mishra told Dhavan: “Can you suggest some way to avoid this rigmarole? You can resolve it.” In response, Dhavan said that Bhushan had already provided an explanation on the matter.

After a brief hearing on the matter through videoconference, the hearing was turned into in-camera proceeding. But before that happened, the bench had asked Dhavan for solution to the case.

The contempt case pertains to Prashant Bhushan’s comments on the judiciary during an interview to the Tehelka magazine in 2009.

In the previous hearing on the matter, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Tarun Tejpal from Tehelka magazine, had submitted that since the last hearing was held in 2012 he was yet to go through the documents in the case.

In response, Justice Mishra had replied that the court would have to resume the hearing. When Sibal pleaded that he needed time to prepare, Justice Mishra said the court would give him enough time for the purpose.

Dhavan too had said that time was required to go through the records and prepare for the hearing. He pointed out that Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani, who appeared for Bhushan earlier, had passed away last year.

Incidentally, the same bench has also issued notice to Prashant Bhushan on July 22 in a suo motu case taken up by the apex court over his two tweets in connection with the higher judiciary.

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People behind the Ayodhya movement: Known and unknown

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Babri Demolition

Ayodhya, Aug 4 : The movement for a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya over the years has seen many key players from time to time carrying forward the campaign. The known faces are the one that have received their share of fame and publicity but there are some who remain in the realms of oblivion.

One of the initiators of the temple movement was Mahant Raghubar Das who filed a petition in the Faizabad Court for permission to build a Ram temple adjacent to the Babri mosque.

Several saints in Ayodhya still give credit to Mahant Raghubar Das for initiating the legal battle that is culminating in the construction of the Ram temple. However, there are many who prefer that he remains unhonoured and unsung.

Then there was Gopal Singh Visharad who filed the first case on the temple dispute in Independent India in 1950.

Visharad was a resident of Balrampur district and the head of the Hindu Mahasabha in the district. He had been stopped by the police from going to the Ram Janmabhoomi and he submitted a petition seeking unhindered access to Hindus to the Janambhoomi.

K.K. Nair, a 1930 batch IAS officer, was district magistrate of Faizabad when the idol of Ram Lalla was placed in the disputed complex on the night of December 23, 1949.

Nair refused to get the idol removed even though he was asked to do so by the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Govind Ballabh Pant. Nair had told his political bosses that they would have to remove him before the idol could be removed.

A resident of Alleppey in Kerala, Nair opted for voluntary retirement in 1952 and was elected to the fourth Lok Sabha in 1967 from Bahraich on a Jan Sangh ticket. His wife, Shankuntala Nair was also elected twice from Kaiserganj Lok Sabha seat.

In 1949, Mahant Digvijay Nath, the chief priest of the Goraksh temple in Gorakhpur led the temple movement after the idol was placed in the disputed complex. The Mahant brought all saints and seers on one platform and drafted the blueprint for the movement which later spread across the country.

After his demise in 1969, his successor Mahant Avaidyanath played an important role in the temple movement. Mahant Avaidyanath’s successor is present Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has also played a proactive role in the temple movement.

Then there are commoners, forgotten face of the Ayodhya movement. One such is ‘kar sevak’ Suresh Baghel, a resident of Vrindavan in Mathura. He made the first attempt to bring down the Babri mosque and faced police action, courted arrest and made several rounds of courts.

Baghel, who now works in a private company on a salary of Rs 6,000 per month, refuses to even talk on the temple issue. “Now no one remembers me and I remember nothing. Please leave me alone,” he said when attempts were made to contact him.

In the 1990s when the temple movement gained momentum, leading to the demolition of the Babri mosque, the then VHP leader Ashok Singhal became the chief architect of Hindutva.

His slogan “Ek dhakka aur do, babri masjid tod do”, created a frenzy and mobilised Hindus like never before. Singhal passed away in 2015 and did not live to see the Ram temple being constructed.

Parveen Togadia, then a senior VHP leader, was also known for his proactive role in the temple movement. He lost his clout after the demise of Ashok Singhal.

L.K. Advani and Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, then top BJP leaders, also played key role in the temple movement, giving it the much-needed political push with their party.

The BJP’s rise in India politics is directly linked to the temple movement and the role played by these two leaders.

Vinay Katiyar, a firebrand Hindu leader, was also the founder of the Bajrang Dal that gave a cutting edge to the temple movement. Katiyar went on to become a three-term MP from Ayodhya but later slid into political oblivion.

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh was another important player in the temple movement. He was UP chief minister when the Babri mosque was demolished and his government was dismissed the same day. Kalyan Singh was convicted for contempt of court because he had promised to protect the mosque.

Uma Bharti and Sadhvi Rithambhara led the women brigade in the temple movement. Both were known for their fiery speeches. Cassettes of Rithambhara’s fiery speeches were sold at a premium in the market and were enough to ignite communal violence.

Talking to IANS, a senior saint of Ayodhya who did not wish to be named, said, ‘All these people have contributed to the temple movement which has reached a stage where the temple construction is beginning. I feel we should have made it a point to invite all those who are still alive and should have felicitated them.”

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