- Apprentice Lawyer
Over 80 students of the Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University (DSNLU), Visakhapatnam commenced a protest on Friday near the University gate, after being made to vacate the hostel for failing to clear their backlog.
Professor Rao told Bar & Bench that the contentious issue pertains to the conduct of a Special Retest Examination.
For odd semester papers, regular exams are conducted in November and retests are conducted in January. For even semester papers, regular exams are conducted in May and repeat examinations are held in July.
Prior to May 2017, students were given one opportunity to clear a paper that they had failed. In May 2017, a new rule was introduced to give students four opportunities in total to clear their papers.
Last year, an additional opportunity was provided for students. Exercising his discretionary powers, Professor Rao had agreed to conduct a Special Retest Examination for the students who had failed to clear their backlog.
However, some of the detained students petitioned the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad, objecting to the results of the Special Retest Exam. As a result, the High Court directed the University to only conduct exams in strict compliance with the DSNLU exam rules.
This meant that Professor Rao had to turn down the students’ request to conduct another Special Retest Examination this year. As pointed out by Professor Rao,
“[The] High Court gave me a direction, do not conduct any examination which is not provided for in the examination rules. So, this time when they requested, I said I cannot do it because the court order is there and if I violate it, it amounts to contempt of court.”
Representations by DSNLU students and parents were also placed before the Chancellor of the University, requesting that the Special Retest Examination be conducted. However, about two days earlier, the Chancellor informed that the request could not be accepted.
“Chancellor having considered all the representations passed an order – that the request of the students is not in order, and [he] directed the university to conduct the examination in strict accordance with the examination rules.”
In this background, the University directed students with backlog to vacate the hostel premises after their even semester exams last week. Students of the third, fourth and fifth years who have yet to clear their exams have been made to vacate.
Whereas some students have been quoted as saying that they were only informed two days earlier of this decision, Professor Rao has refuted the statement, asserting that intimation to vacate the hostel had been sent much earlier, on June 29. Referring to e-mails sent in this regard to the students, Prof Rao said,
“I have documentary evidence, they were informed on 29th June.”
Given the directions issued by the High Court and the Chancellor, Professor Rao says that a possible solution for the students is to amend the University Rules after the same is approved by the Academic Council.
“High Court says only give opportunity according to the Rules. And the Rules provide for only two exams, not a third exam, therefore I am helpless.
The only one way out is, the Academic Council can always direct me to change the rule and accommodate it. The Academic Council meeting is scheduled to be held.”
Professor Rao stated that he is in the midst of contacting persons for the conduct of the Academic Council meeting, which could be held within 7-10 days.
In the meanwhile, he said he cannot accede to the demand that the protesting students be allowed to stay in the hostel.
“[Students are demanding] that they must be permitted to stay till a final decision is taken by the Academic Council. I said that can’t be permitted. Once the Academic Council takes the decision, I will inform you. You can come and directly stay in the university hostels…
… As per rules, we do not allow anyone to be admitted unless he is a student, and a detained student is not a student unless he rejoins (in the year he failed to clear). They are not [re] joining…
…They say no, we will only join after the Academic Council decision is given…You know pretty well there is a principle called locus standi. When the locus standi is not fulfilled, then how can you be considered? Then anyone on the road can come and stay in the University hostel…people could come tomorrow and say, I must be permitted to stay in the hostel till I complete all papers.
There is no end for this. Somewhere the rules have to be followed.”
Professor Rao also said that if it were up to him, he was ready to grant another opportunity for the students.
“I said I will give you an opportunity. Wait till the Academic Council meeting is over; hope that they will also be positive and give you another opportunity. [But] they are not prepared to wait.
If they [Academic Council] say yes, I will definitely go ahead. Then you can come in. But till then, they [students] are not in a position to wait. This is the problem…
…If there was a power in me, I would have definitely given them another examination.”
All the same, he also adds that the students should be more appreciative of difficulty in meeting their demand.
“How many exams can the University hold in one academic year? This also they must understand.”