P&H HC runs the University of Punjab [Read Order]
The High Court of Punjab and Haryana Tuesday (01st September) ordered the University of Punjab in Chandigarh to reconsider its decision to drop the UGLAW entrance exam for the 5-year law course, as stated in its circular August 11, 2020.
The divisional bench of Judge S. Muralidhar and Judge Avneesh Jhingan heard a bunch of petitions challenging the respondent’s decision / University of Punjab, Chandigarh to abolish the UGLAW entrance test for admission to the BA / B.Com. LL.B. (Hons.) Integrated 5-year course for the 2020-21 academic year.
It can be noted that initially, the University proposed to hold the entrance exam for the 5-year law course and the date initially set for this purpose has continued to be canceled and re-fixed. due to the Covid-19 situation in the countryside.
However, on August 11, 2020, a circular was issued by the University announcing that it has “removed UGLAW entry test“, given the Covid-19 situation.
The said circular also establishes a new timetable for the admissions process which notably stipulates that a provisional list of merit would be posted on the University’s website no later than the evening of September 22, 2020 and after inviting objections to this. provisional list would be posted by the evening of September 29, 2020.
The entrance test having been abolished by the University, the admission of students would be done mainly on the basis of the marks obtained in the 10 + 2 exam.
Arguments advanced in petitions
The submission of the petitioners (who applied for the 5-year law course) was that the Covid-19 excuse for dropping the entrance test is not valid when in fact the University is holding exams entry for other courses including the three-year law course for the same academic session.
They further argued that the twelfth standard score as the sole criterion for determining a candidate’s suitability for entry into the five-year law course would not be reasonable or reliable. It makes the admission process arbitrary and contrary to article 14 of the Constitution.
Reference has been made to recent Supreme Court orders refusing to postpone or cancel the holding of entrance exams for courses elsewhere in the country.
It can be noted that when CWP-12832-2020 was taken in for the hearing on Monday (August 31, 2020) an observation was made by Mr. Deepak Vashishth, the applicant’s lawyer, that the University was in fact going ahead with holding the entrance exam for the three-year law course and therefore there was without reason so that she cancels the entrance examination for the 5-year law course.
The University Council confirmed on Tuesday (01st September) that the University would organize the entrance exam for the three-year law course.
He further argued that with regard to the 5-year law course, since the results of the 10 + 2 exam were declared, the University felt that it could dispense with the holding of a entrance exam and proceed to admissions on the basis of the marks obtained in the 10 + 2 exam.
Observation of the Court
The Court found merit in the applicants’ assertion that the avowed reason as set out in the circular of August 11, 2020, namely the âCovid-19 situationâ is not valid when in fact the University organizes the entrance examination for the three-year law course.
The Court noted,
“Considering the fact that there are generally few possibilities to include law subjects in the curriculum of the 10 + 2 grades, it is not possible to make a comparative assessment of the suitability of candidates for admission to the 5-year law course solely on the basis of the marks obtained in the 10 + 2 exam. “(emphasis added)
The Court further observed,
“It should be noted that the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for admission to national law schools for the current academic session has not been removed. The position of the UGC concerning the organization of tests for access to the various courses also needs to be taken into account.. “
In the circumstances, the Court disposed of these requests with an instruction to the University “to reconsider its decision to abolish the UGLAW entrance exam for the 5-year law course as expressed in its circular of August 11, 2020 and to take a new decision in this regard no later than September 15 2020 in light of the observations of this Court in this Order and the reasons raised in those motions.“(emphasis added)
The said decision must be posted on the University’s website immediately after it has been taken. Until then, the University has been ordered not to proceed with admissions to BA / B.Com. LL.B. (Hons.) 5-year integrated law course based on the circular of August 11, 2020 as well as guidelines uploaded from the University’s website on August 25, 2020.
Case title: Saurav Rao and Ors. v. University of Punjab through its registrar, sector 14, Chandigarh and Ors. WITH Navya Raj Petitioner v. University of Panjab, Chandigarh and Ors.
Case number: CWP-12832-2020 WITH CWP-13272-2020
Quorum: Judge S. Muralidhar and Judge Avneesh Jhingan
Appearance: lawyers Deepak Vashishth and Vikas Chatrath (for the applicants); lawyer Arun Bakshi (for the respondents); Lawyer Preeti Dalal (for respondent # 3 in CWP-12832-2020).
Click here to download the order