NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued fresh notices to the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Delhi University (DU) on a plea, seeking an adequate and effective mechanism for the education of visually impaired and specially-abled individuals amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
A division bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad, while hearing the petition, issued notices and asked the UGC and the DU to file their reply within two weeks.
The court had earlier issued notice to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, asking them to file a counter affidavit within five days stating measures they are proposing to take.
"In view of the fact that the University of Delhi and the University Grants Commission have been permitted to be impeded only today, orders on this writ petition and the applications are deferred," said the bench.
The court, while differing the matter to June 24, said that fresh affidavits shall be filed by the respondents within two weeks with copies to the counsel for the petitioners, who may file rejoinders thereto, within one week thereafter.
ALSO READ | 90% students not ready for online open book exams: Delhi University Teachers Union
"We may note that the reply affidavits filed by the HRD Ministry and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment do not deal with the issue raised in the present petition, in any manner. The said respondents are directed to file fresh affidavits focusing only on the issue raised in the present petition and not on the previous decisions taken by the Ministry in general for dealing with the educational requirements of university students who are differently-abled," the court said in its order.
The plea, moved by two law students Prateek Sharma and Diksha Singh, stated that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the universities, schools and colleges and other educational institutions are engaged in online teachings; however, no efforts have been made by the government to consider the need of the visually impaired and specially-abled individuals.
The petitioner-in-person also sought an interim relief that the mid-term evaluation as the UGC guidelines must be stayed till such guidelines and mechanism are set-up and put in place.
The plea sought directions to provide adequate steps and undertake measures to facilitate online learning and online examinations and examinations being conducted including mid-semester evaluation and/or continuous evaluation as per the UGC guidelines.
ALSO READ | DU to engage CSCs for J-K, Northeast students for online, open book exams; plan confuses some
This comes as educational institutes have been directed to remain closed amid the pandemic.
The normal mode of education was done away with and that online learning was adopted and no considerations were made for visually impaired and specially-abled individuals (auditory impairment) and their educational needs, the plea said.
Due to this non-consideration, students at all levels who are visually impaired and/or specially-abled find themselves in worsening educational conditions and effectively have been left to fend for themselves during this period of hardship, it added.
It said that the burden of learning is not on the visually impaired and specially-abled individuals, rather it is the duty of the State to ensure and provide for effective teachings method. However, the same is not being done due to the lack of any such policy or effective mechanism, the plea said.