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Covid-19: Karnataka HC quashes decision of Bar Council of India, varsity to hold semester exams

Student approached the single bench stating, "The examination will have a disproportionate and adverse impact on the students who were unable to attend classes in online mode for various reasons like accessibility, remote locality, and affordability.

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The Karnataka High Court on Monday quashed the decision of the Bar Council of India (BCI) and circular issued by the Karnataka State Law University (KSLU) thereby imposing an examination on the intermediate semester law students.

This order has been given by a single-judge bench of Justice R. Devdas.

The petition was filed through Advocates Arnav Bagalwadi, Shathabish Shivanna, Abhishek Janardhan and H.C. Prateek, stated that the circular issued by BCI and KSLU are inconsistent with UGC guideline of April 2019, UGC Revised Guidelines dated July 6, 2020 and the Government of Karnataka order dated July 10, 2020, which mandated all the universities in the state of Karnataka to evaluate its intermediate semester students under an evaluation formula, where 50% weightage would be in internal evaluation and 50 % weightage would be in marks scored in previous semester.

The press release dated November 1, 2020, issued by Bar Council of India and Circular dated November 9, 2020, issued by the University are quashed and set aside, in so far as intermediate semester examination are concerned with respect to first to the fourth year of five-year law students only.

The Court directed KSLU to announce a fresh timetable with respect for first to fourth-year law students of five-year law course, scheduling exams of the odd semester only. In so far as even semester exams are concerned, the same shall be assessed on the basis of internal assessments of students to an extent of 50 percent and remaining 50 percent marks on the basis of the performance in the previous semester only, if available.

“Having regard to the grievance raised in the petition and decision of Supreme Court in the case Praneet K, the decision of the Bar Council and University is not being arrived at based on any expert opinion, unlike the guidelines issued by UGC. The Court is of the opinion that if not for cancellation of all exams, at least the even semester examination of First to Fourth Year intermediate law students requires cancellation.”

-the Court said.

“As held by the Supreme Court, there is a rational basis for the decision of UGC in advising the university that in case a situation does not appear normal in view of the Covid-19, in order to maintain social distancing, safety health of students, grading of the student on the basis of internal assessment and taking 50 percent of marks awarded in the previous semester, marks can be awarded to first-year and fourth-year students,” the Court observed.

Following that, the student approached the single bench stating, “The examination will have a disproportionate and adverse impact on the students who were unable to attend classes in online mode for various reasons like accessibility, remote locality, and affordability.

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The students had a legitimate expectation from the university that they would be taught the subjects, given access to study material and then they would be evaluated. If an examination is conducted bypassing this process that would breach this legitimate expectation.”

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