Punjab & Haryana High Court
Punjab & Haryana High Court
Litigation News

Exams amid COVID-19: Punjab & Haryana HC asks Panjab University to rethink decision to scrap 5-year course law entrance exams

The decision to cancel the entrance exam was challenged as discriminatory because the University was already conducting an entrance test for its three-year law degree.

Lydia Suzanne Thomas

The Punjab & Haryana High Court has directed Panjab University to reconsider its decision to scrap the admission test to its five-year undergraduate integrated law courses (Saurav Rao and Ors. v. Panjab University).

The University's decision was challenged as discriminatory as it was already conducting an entrance examination for entry to its three-year law programme.

The petition claimed that doing away with the entrance examination would deny applicants their right to fair competition. It was argued that the current criteria for admissions - marks obtained in Class 12 examinations - would be a poor indicator of eligibility for the law course.

The Bench of Justices Dr S Muralidhar and Avneesh Jhingan took note of the fact that the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) was not cancelled during the pandemic. The University Grants Commission’s (UGC) mandate on the conduct of entrance examinations was also pointed out.

Highlighting that the decision did not make sense in light of the entrance examination conducted for the other law course, the Court directed the University to reconsider its decision.

In light of this, the Court ruled:

"The Court is of the considered view that given the requirements of the 5-year law course and considering the fact that the University is in fact holding the entrance examination for the three year law course, the reason put forth for scrapping the entrance examination for the 5 year law course does not appears to be justified."

The University had argued that admissions to its three-year course depended on the results of the final year examinations conducted at the undergraduate level. Since many universities have not yet conducted these examinations, an entrance examination was necessary, it was argued.

Since the results of Class 12 examinations have been declared, such an issue did not arise for the five-year undergraduate course, the University submitted.

The petitioner had relied on a Supreme Court decision which stressed on the importance of holding an entrance examination after the senior secondary school level, on account of varying standards of testing across curricula and streams of study.

The Bench accepted the reference to the Supreme Court ruling, stating:

Given the fact that there is generally little scope of inclusion of law based subjects in the syllabus for the 10+2 classes, it is not possible to make a comparative assessment of suitability of candidates for admission to the 5- year law course solely on the basis of marks obtained in the 10+2 exam. It would not be safe or reliable to either give equal weightage to the performance of students in the science, arts, commerce streams in the 10+2 level or give preference to one over the other in adjudging the suitability for the 5-year law course.

Punjab & Haryana High Court

In the interim, admissions to the University would not be made on the basis of a school leaving examination, the Bench additionally stated.

Directing the Panjab University to reconsider its decision to cancel the entrance examinations by September 15, the petition was disposed of.

Read the Order here:

Saurav Rao and Ors. v. Panjab University.pdf
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