HC directs reimbursement of costs upto total of Rs.2 lakhs to visually impaired students, to procure books in accessible form and/or assistive devices for Examinations
Delhi High Court while hearing a Petition has passed a series of direction, to the Delhi University to address the concerns of the visually impaired students including to reimburse costs upto total of Rs.2 lakhs to visually impaired students, procure any books in accessible form and/or assistive devices.
The petition filed by National Federation of Blind had challenged the Delhi University Notification to conduct of open book examination for final semester/term/year students seeking a direction to assess the performance of visually impaired and other students with disabilities, of final semester/term/year for academic session 2019-2020, on the basis of their performance in the previous semester as well as internal assessment, on the same basis as has been decided to be done for other intermediate semester students. It was also sought to permit the visually impaired students to appear in the entrance test for the course/programmes of their choice and grant them admission provisionally for academic session 2020-2021, if their results are not declared by the time the admission process is commenced.
In respect of the entrance test, the Delhi University had informed the Court that the visually impaired students would be permitted to appear in the entrance tests for various programmes for the academic session 2020-2021, subject to declaration of the result of final semester/year/term examination.
The Counsel appearing for the National Federation of Blind on being asked from the Court informed that the costs of acquiring text books in accessible form and assistive devices for the visually impaired students of final semester/term/year and who are without the same, will not be more than Rs. 2 lakhs. Considering the amount involved, the Court directed Delhi University costs upto total of Rs.2 lakhs to visually impaired students, procure any books in accessible form and/or assistive devices
The Court also passed further following directions:
….. As and when a second round of open book examination is held, which as per the University is to be held in September 2020, the visually impaired students, even if have participated in the open book examination commencing from 2 nd July, 2020, would be again entitled to appear in such examination, including to improve their score in the said examination.
….. The visually impaired students may approach their respective institutes/colleges for any assistance required, including provision of reading material/textbooks 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/ textbooks in accessible form and the assistive devices.
….. If any student approaches the respondent No. 2 DU for assistance in arranging a scribe, to enable the visually impaired student to take their examination, DU to also make best efforts for arranging for such scribe/scribes.
While keeping the issues raised in the Petition open for final determination, the Court observed that merely because the visually impaired student/s are participating in the open book examination scheduled to commence from 2nd July, 2020, would not disentitle them to the relief if ultimately granted in this petition, as claimed therein, i.e. of assessment on the basis of performance in the earlier semester and /or on the basis of internal assessment.
We think that while observing the safety parameters and ensuring adequate provision for universal participation of all the categories of students, any decision to continue the education and academic process is legal and logical.
It is any case a settled law, that Courts generally do not interfere with decision by academic authorities, unless such decision is arbitrary and devoid of reasons.
Having said that our Government needs to take up significant measures for holistic inclusion of our fellow DIVYANGJANS, because we accept it or no, they really feel marginalised even today. Educational Institutions have been mandated to frame Equal Opportunity Policy to encourage social inclusion. However, not all have come up with the same.
We have moved some steps, but we have to go far towards their welfare.