4/cQDFin92ra-3C8zDMkaEfdIEcRMfsqgNO3Roxme3jHvVbFspxyjrGP4

Monthly Archives: January 2019

Academic Pursuit V/S The Issue Of Political Correctness

“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.” – Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

In the life of a student, living in the practical realm is of utmost necessity. A student will only be able to develop when he or she can skim through the theoretical studies and have pragmatic inter linkage thereto. In fields like medicine and law especially this pragmatic approach towards the subjects is indefeasible.

Thus, when an M.B.B.S student is given to tackle practical situations during the course as  a part of the curriculum, the same facilitates and develops the cognitive faculties to an extent that aids the receptivity of the student towards the real life situations as and when they arise. Likewise, goes for an LLB student, you cannot keep law out of society. Law and society are integrally interlinked. The course of legal studies in India or all over the world for that matter is more or less case study based. It is an accepted practice, to give law students situational based questions and leave to them to give the answers by applying the relevant provisions of law to those situations and frame an appropriate answer.

The Bar Council of India has time and again revised directions to the law institutions holding that legal education cannot be imparted through channels where there is no interaction inter se the teachers and students, no classrooms, no requirement for attendance and no practical exposure. Law is one of such courses where academic education is considered incomplete without practical exposure be it through internships or moot courts or otherwise. The students who eventually are going to deal with the rights, duties and lives of the people when they become lawyers have to be trained with the practical exigencies and hand-holdings by their seniors, and, this is why not just the students are required to undertake internships but even practicing lawyers and sitting judges are often called upon by the Universities for judging moot courts which forms part of the basic tenets of the modus of imparting legal education.

Recently, a lot of controversy arose when such a situational based question was given in the December, 2018 End term Examination of the University School of Law and Legal Studies, IP University College, Law of Crimes Paper; the question read as,

“Ahmed, a Muslim kills a cow in a market in the presence of Rohit, Tushar, Manav and Rahul, who are Hindus. Has Ahmed committed any offence?”.

This question is ordinarily seen by any law student would make his or her mind skim through the relevant provisions of the criminal legal regime, like section 153-A, 295-A IPC or even section 298 of the IPC, or other provisions of the Prevention of the Cow Slaughter Act (of the respective states). Pursuant to this paper, the esteemed University who by virtue of teaching law is expected to act in a rationale manner actually ended up issuing an Office Order dated December 20, 2018 against the teachers who had framed the said question thereby debarring them from getting involved in the task of setting up and moderation of question papers for a period of six semesters from thereon. In addition to this, making optimum use of this situation for bringing politics into the picture the Deputy CM on January 1, 2019 issued an order stating :

This is a serious matter where the basic spirit of the Constitution of India is being violated. This cannot be allowed. Merely issuing press release or barring the responsible person from making the question papers for few semesters would not be sufficient. Responsibility should be fixed and responsible persons to be terminated immediately. Cover up exercise cannot be tolerated after such a huge lapse.”

Subsequent to this order, the University called for a Board of Management Meeting citing the agenda to be to discuss the  termination of the Assistant Professors. The professors therefore had approached the Honorable High Court of Delhi, wherein the learned counsels representing the Assistant Professors put-forth arguments before the Honorable Court, thereby refuting the allegations of inciting communal violence and stated that the sole purpose of asking this question was to check the understanding of the students with respect to the criminal legal regime in light of the application of the relevant provisions of law. The question was framed in a fashion that it had to be answered on basis of the case laws and provisions of law, no personal opinion of the students or any person in any manner was ever sought. And, when there is no independence granted to the student to express their opinion on the situation and when the students were well constrained within the frame of the legal provisions and the case laws, how can the same be said to be inciting communal violence. The Honorable Delhi High Court thereafter, accepting the contentions of the counsels representing the professors granted an interim stay in their favor thereby putting at halt any kind of termination or adverse action against the professors sought to be taken by the University. Thus, the Delhi High Court in the true sense upheld the echelons of justice and ensuring that justice was not denied.

An article published in “The Indian Express” on December 12, 2019 cited a statement made by the Education Minister that, “How could such a reprehensible question with a communal overtone be framed for an LLB exam?” Such a reaction is seriously questionable and condemned especially, when a similar question formed part of the GGSIPU End Term Examination paper on the Law of Crimes during November-December 2016 also. The question then read as,

“ ‘X’ a Mohammedan kills a cow in an open place in the presence of 4-5 Hindus. What offence did he commit?”

Thus, the rage raised in pursuance to the 2018 paper was certainly unneeded and uncalled for and is a sheer demonstration of exploitation of academic institutions of our country for political ends at the hands of the ruling government.

This is not the first time that political manifestations have been made keeping the gun on the shoulders of academic institutions, the difference just being that earlier such attacks were made on the administrative domain of the institutions like the case of JNU, and this time a targeted attempt was made to disrupt the academic affairs of an Institution.

This leaves the public with a question as to whether at all is there any academic freedom in our country, or is the country to be governed as per the whims and fancies of the government thereby being a mere facilitator for the political gains of the few. The scholars, teachers should be vested with the freedom to not only teach but also frame the most suited questions relevant to the subjects freely. These time and again attempts from the government’s side to interfere with the affairs of the Academic Institutions whether be in the ordinary executive and administrative sphere or the academic sphere (like in the present GGSIPU case) should be condoned. The Government should not be given the liberty to exploit these Institutions for their political gains. May be, the routinely interference of the government with the affairs of JNU has  provided them with a leeway to now even hamper the academic sphere, but this certainly shall be condoned in strict sense.

The teachers form the building blocks of the nation due to the responsibility vested in them to train and educate the children of the country who are the future of the nation. Setting up and moderation of the question papers infact, should be considered to be as a part of the right to dignity of the teaching profession, and actions debarring teachers from being part of the paper setting team should be strongly discouraged, especially, in light of situations like the present one wherein there is a clear attack intended solely for the purpose of deriving political mileage.

Eugene Vinaver, Professor of French Language and Literature at the University of Manchester, in an address to the faculty of the University stressed on the uniqueness of the University as public institution and observed:

“That the condition under which academic work can prosper can never be equated with the political structure of a state or the administrative structure of an army or, for that matter, the rational structure of a large concern. Efficiency in all such enterprises requires within certain limits the abandonment of equality. In an academic body, on the contrary, efficiency is strictly proportionate to the degree of individual freedom, for such is the nature of human intellect that when its freedom is violated, destruction ensues.”

Academic freedom here is required to be distinguished from University autonomy, the former relates to the professional freedom of the teaching fraternity in the matters of prescribing the syllabus and curriculum, conduct of examinations, teaching, valuation etc., whereas the latter majorly relates to the university being a self governing institution making decisions  for its affairs.

Furthermore, it is extremely imperative for us to ponder over that every human has two key roles to be played in a society, the first one being discharging the obligations as a citizen, and, the second one being, discharging responsibility as a functionality, when functioning in the professional domain does not mean that the person is not sensitive as a citizen, there certainly is that sense of sensitiveness, however, due to the demand of the functionality which is required to be discharged requires the person to undertake decision making or conduct certain activities which may be peculiar to the discharging of obligations qua the profession and the same cannot be adjudged as insensitive by the society. A judge as a human being in the shoes of a citizen might not even want to kill a mosquito, however, the profession demands him to even levy death penalty on the offenders, thus, while discharging this professional responsibility one can’t target judge on grounds of being insensitive. Likewise, it is unfair to target the professors by raising such controversies when all that they are doing is discharging their professional obligations. If posed with constant   fear of criticism in this manner, how can a law professor be expected to teach, when they know they would be targeted with political criticism. This act in fact compromises the principles of academic freedom to a large extent. Under such circumstances, how can the teachers even be expected to discuss case laws and teach sections like 153A, 124A, 295A of the IPC, 1860. Thus, in order to impart the ideology behind these sections it is imperative for the teachers to hold discussions in this respect and for better clarity on the ingredients thereof, to even deliberate using the existing case laws. And, the need to preserve this right to them is necessary. There has to be certain threshold of academic freedom required to be maintained.

It is of utmost necessity that now, we as a nation initiate taking a stand for protecting the academic institutions of our nation and prevent them from being exploited at the hands of the few and ensure that their sanctity is well preserved, maintained and protected. It is further important for us to ensure that the profession of teaching remains as noble as it has ever been and at the same time it is for us to ensure that utmost independence is given to the teachers to not only, frame whatever kind of questions they deem fit for imparting the best of knowledge to their students, but also, for using the best of the ways for imparting education and  for independence to use the best of their capabilities to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform among the individuals as well enshrined under our Indian Constitution as well.

Critical Analysis of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill, 2017

Critical Analysis of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill, 2017

The Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill, 2017 which was passed by the Loksabha on April 10, 2017, has been stalled in the Rajyasabha for over a year despite road safety activists pushing for urgent passage of the same. The Bill is likely to be passed in the monsoon session of Parliament and its approval is of national importance for the following reasons:

(i) The Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2018 released by WHO provides that the road crash fatalities in India is at 3 Lakh, the highest in the world. Furthermore, the MoRTH’s Report, ‘Road Accidents in India, 2016 records the number of accidents in India to be.  1.46 lakh annually. This is extremely disconcerting especially considering that India only accounts for 2% of the global vehicle population. In light of the same, it is extremely pertinent to amend the existing law so as to curb the growing number of accidents and consequent fatalities.

(ii) The MV Act is three decades old and is not contemporaneous to the existing technology. Consequently, the outdated provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 are failing to deter the increasing fatalities due to traffic violations.  Hence there is a dire need to bring in radical changes to the Law.

(iii) The new Bill is a great step towards strengthening transportation and road safety in India since roads are vital for transportation in India and carry 655 of goods and 90% of passengers.

(iv) The Proposed Bill is also the need of the hour so as to attain the UN mandate under the Brasilia Declaration to reduce road accidents up to 50 percent by 2020.

Main proposals in the Bill:

  • Introduction of a Road Safety Board

The New Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board under Section 215D. The Board has been set up with an objective to render advice to the Union as well as the State Government on aspects of road safety and traffic management including standards of road design, vehicle maintenance, road maintenance, motor vehicle standards etc.

  • Centralized Digital Licensing System

The new Bill takes into account the digital growth of the country and provides for a centralized digital licensing System which envisages the following:

  1. Section 25A provides for setting up of a  digital National Register of Driving Licenses, the identification of which would be on the basis of UID System. The Register would subsume all the State Registers and hence, would enable the maintenance of a comprehensive register of all the licenses issued in the country. To ensure the success of the register, Section 25H specifically provides that no driving licenses shall be valid unless it has been issued a unique driving license number under the National Register of Driving Licenses.
  2. The Bill also envisages the introduction of Learner’s license online and automated driving tests.

Outcome:

An online licensing system will reduce the increasing number of touts involved in obtaining a driving license.  It will also curb the practice of obtaining multiple licenses from different States which was earlier possible due to the lack of a centralized database.  Furthermore, it will help to bring in uniformity with respect to driving licenses throughout India.

  • Provisions Regarding Offences Committed by Juveniles

The Bill seeks to introduce Section 199A wherein Guardians of the Juvenile / Owner of the vehicle will be held responsible for traffic violations by the juvenile. The onus will be on the guardian/ juveniles to prove that the offense was committed without their knowledge or they tried to prevent it.  Additionally, the guardian or owner of the vehicle shall be held guilty with a fine of Rs.25000 and or imprisonment of up to 3 years. Juveniles committing traffic violations will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act. The registration of the vehicle shall also be canceled.

Currently, there are no provisions pertaining to offenses committed by Juveniles. Allowing unauthorized person the driven vehicle imputes a penalty of Rs.1000 and or imprisonment of up to three months. Provisions of IPC are also invoked in certain instances.

The stringent provision is a result of 18738 accidents in India involving underage drivers.  (as per 2016 MORTH Report). It is pertinent to note that 5383 of the said accidents were fatal. The amendment will ensure that the vehicle owners/guardians will not allow their vehicle to be used by minors, resulting in a reduction of the number of offenses committed by juveniles.

  • Protection of Good Samaritans

The Bill seeks introductions of Section 134A to protect people who aid accident victims from criminal and civil liability, also known as good Samaritans. The section gives them an option not to disclose their identity to policy or medical personnel. This is in tune to the directions of the Honourable Supreme Court in Save Life Foundation v Union of India wherein the Honourable Court had held that civil/criminal liability cannot be imputed on any person who brings the injured person the hospital in accident cases. Similar guidelines have already been issued by MORTH, binding on all States and UTs.

The amendment will ensure that the people who witness the road accidents will wilfully help the accident victims without any fear of civil or criminal liability. On the flip side, the lack of provision for examination of good Samaritans may lead to people with bad intention of taking advantage of the provision.

  • Motor Vehicle Accident Fund

The Bill also envisages the setting up of a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund which provides compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents by the Government.

The need for such a fund was widely debated in the Parliament. The Government is yet to come up with a rational answer.

  • Accountability for Poor Roads

The Bill also envisages the insertion of Section 198A to impute accountability on contractors, consultants, and civic agencies for faulty design, construction or poor maintenance of roads leading to accidents.  This will result in a penalty of up to Rs. One lakh in such cases.

The new provision is a laudatory step towards improving the quality of roads in India. The provision was introduced to curb the increasing number of accidents and deaths caused due to engineering/designing fault. As per the MORTH’s Report (Road Accidents in India, 2016), 1289 accident were caused in India due to engineering faults, killing 589.

  • Provision for Recalling Vehicles with Substandard Components

Under Ss. 110A and 110B, the Bill empowers the Central Government to recall vehicles with substandard components/engines, posing a threat to the environment, the driver, occupants of the vehicle or other road users. Additionally, testing agencies or owners (comprising of a minimum specified percentage) can report defects to the central Government so that the Government can then make a recall order.  Vehicle Users who are affected by such orders are also entitled to reimburse the buyers for the full cost of the vehicle or replacement of the defective vehicle with a similar or better vehicle. Manufacturers can also be fined upto Rs. 500 crore for sub-standard products.

The insertion of S. 110Aand 110B will result in a paradigm shift in the transport industry in terms of recall of vehicles.

  • Enhancement of Fine for Several Offences:

The Bill also enhances the fine for the following offences:

  1. Minimum fine for drunk driving (From Rs. 2000 to Rs. 10000)
  2. Fine for rash driving (From Rs. 1000 to Rs. 5000)
  • Driving without a license (From Rs. 500 to Rs. 5000)
  1. Fine for over speeding ( From Rs. 500 to Rs.5000)
  2. Fine for not wearing seatbelt (From Rs. 100 to Rs. 1000)
  3. Fine for talking on a mobile phone while driving (From Rs. 1000 to Rs. 5000)
  • Fine for travelling without ticket on public transport (From Rs. 200 to Rs 500)
  • Fine for disobeying the orders of authorities (From Rs. 500 to Rs. 2000)
  1. Fine for unauthorized use of vehicles without license (From Rs 1000 to Rs. 5000)
  2. Fine for driving without license (From Rs. 500 to Rs. 5000)
  3. Fine for driving despite disqualification (From Rs. 500 to Rs. 10000)
  • Fine for not wearing helmet – (From Rs. 100 to Rs. 1000 (along with disqualification of license for three months)

The stringent penalty will result in curbing traffic violations as they will think twice before committing any offense. However, the stringent penalties will only enable in obtaining the objectives if the enforcement agencies act strictly. It is pertinent to ensure that corruption is kept at check as the increase in penalty gives opportunities to enforcement agencies to collect bribes lower amounts.

  • Introduction of New Penalties

The Bill also introduces new penalties to ensure stringent punishment which will act as a deterrent and prevent road users from driving recklessly:

  1. Fine for driving oversize vehicles would be Rs. 5000 and Rs. 1000 for LMV.
  2. Fine for aggregators (violating licensing conditions – Rs. 1,00,000
  • Fine for not giving way to emergency vehicles – Rs 10000
  1. Fine imposed on guardians of juveniles for offences committed by Juveniles ( Rs. 25,000 with 3 years’ imprisonment)
  • Categorisation of Validity Period for Vehicles

The new Bill introduces new categories for validity period of driving licence. If the driving license is issued to a person under the age of 30, it would be valid till he turns 40. If driving license is issued to a person between the ages of 30 and 50, the license would be valid for a period of 10 years. If the license is issued to a person between 50 and 55 years, it will be valid until the person turns 60. If the Dl is issued to person above 55 years, it will be valid for five years. (This can be contrasted with the current provision wherein a DL is valid for 20 years until a person turns 50, and for 5 years after the age of 50)

The new categorisation reasonably classifies validity period of driving licenses on the basis of age of individuals, thereby ensuring that people who are not physically capable of driving vehicles obtain licenses for driving.

  • Introduction of Aggregators

Currently, app based taxi services were to register themselves as taxi operator under obsolete laws requiring them to obtain permits of different kinds to operate.The new Bill seeks to introduce a concept of aggregators who have been defined as “a digital intermediary or market place for a passenger to connect with a driver for the purpose of transportation”, thereby giving statutory recognition to transport aggregators. E.g. cab service providers like Ola, Uber.

This is a laudable state as most app based taxi services were receiving flak from different State Government for not registering themselves in their respective states as taxi operators. This will not only enable these aggregators to move our of the web of legal confusion that they have been tangled in but also enable them to become a business entity by themselves.

  • Introduction of Safety Provisions
  1. The new Bill proposes amendment to S. 138 of the MV Act which confers power to the State Government to make rules for a number of specified matters. The bill envisages the insertion of sub-section (1A) which will confer power on the State Government to “regulate activities of pedestrians and non-motorised road user sin a public place.” This will empower the State Government to create cycle tracks, footpaths, NMT lanes etc to ensure safety of pedestrians.
  2. The new Bill makes it mandatory for every child to be secured by a safety belt or a child restraint system (Section 194B). If the child is not seated in a safe manner, a penalty of Rs. 1000 shall be imposed on the adult.
  • Section 129 of the Act has been amended to mandate that every child above the age of four years being carried on a motorcycle wears a helmet. The design and specification of the helmet shall be prescribed by the Central government.

The introduction of the above mentioned safety provisions would enable in improving the safety conditions for pedestrians as well as motor vehicle users in India.

  • Provisions Pertaining to Transport Vehicles:
  1. The Bill seeks to introduce Section 12(5) which enables an applicant to obtain a transport vehicle in which he has received training through an accredit school. This is as opposed to the earlier provision which mandated at least one year experience of driving a light motor vehicle before applying for a LL for transport vehicle. The said amendment has been widely criticized, as it seems to be a step backward from road safety.
  2. Section 14(2)(a) has been amended so as to increase the renewal period of transport licenses. The renewal period has been increased from 3 years to 5 years. In case of transport licenses for driving vehicles with hazardous good, the renewal period has been increased from 1 year to 3 years in addition to compliance with the conditions prescribed by the Central Government.
  • Additionally, the Bill also envisages introduction of automated fitness testing for transport vehicles with effect from 1st October, 2019.

It is pertinent to note that the Bill has not dealt with provisions pertaining to fatigue tests, training of heavy vehicle transport drivers etc. which are extremely important factors to improve road safety.

  • Disqualification of Driver’s License

Section 19 has been amended so as to enable the disqualification of the driver’s license of any person after a certain number of offences. The name of the disqualified person shall be placed in public domain until completion of a driver refresher training course from an established school.

  • Registration of New Vehicles by Vehicle Dealers

Section 41 has been amended so as to enable vehicle dealers to register new vehicles. Such vehicles shall bear distinguishable registration marks. Dealers who fail to duly register a vehicle are liable to be fined up to an amount of Rs. 15000.

  • Annual Increase in Fines

Section 199B envisages an increase in the fines under the Act at the rate of ten percent on an annual basis on the first day of April every year. This has been done so as to ensure that the fines are contemporaneous with the changing times.

  • Introduction of Electronic Monitoring and Enforcement System

The Bill envisages the introduction of an electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety under Section 136A. The Central Government shall make rules for the same and the respective State Governments shall be responsible for its implementation, as opposed to the current system wherein the monitoring and enforcement of road safety is a State subject.

The Section envisages the establishment of a robust electronic enforcement system including speed cameras, closed-circuit television cameras, speed guns and such other technology necessary for ensuring safer roads in India.

The introduction of Section 136A is a laudable step towards a better and improved road safety and infrastructure in India as it will reduce the amount of human intervention and consequently, the corruption involved.  The provision will also help in bringing in uniformity in terms of electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety in India

  • Wider Scope of ‘Dangerous Driving’

Section 184 which deals with dangerous driving has been amended to widen the scope of dangerous driving. At present, the definition is very narrow and does not include traffic offences that lead to the most number of traffic accidents like using mobile phones, jumping traffic lights.    It now includes include the acts that are considered driving in manner dangerous to the public such as jumping a red light, violating a stop sign, use of hand-held communication devices while driving, driving against the flow of traffic, and passing or overtaking any motor-vehicle in a manner contrary to law.

The amendment will make the public more careful about traffic violations, thereby reducing the number of road accidents. The provision will also enable law enforcement agencies to penalise violators effectively.

  • National Transportation Policy

The amendment introduces Ss. 66A and 66B which empowers the Central Government to introduce A National Transportation Policy. The said Policy would be formulated after consulting with the State Governments

  • Introduction of Multiplies for Penalty

The Bill seeks to introduce the concept of multipliers for penalty (under S. 210A).  The said section will enable the State governments to increase fine in their respective States. .The multiplier cannot be less than 1 nor greater than 10.  Under S. 210B, the enforcing authority will have to pay twice the penalty corresponding to any offence.

This provision will aid the State Government to increase penalties in places where they are of the opinion that higher penalties may be required to curb to violations.

  • Enhancement of Compensation in Hit and Run Cases

The Bill proposes to amend S 161 to the effect that compensation in hit and run cases in case of grievous injury would be hiked to Rs. 50,000 and in case of death, Rs. 2 lakhs.   Currently, compensation for hit and run cases is Rs. 12,500in case of grievous hurt and Rs. 25,000 in case of death.

 India suffered from 55,942 hit and run cases in 2016 alone. The amendment would enable in decreasing the number.

  • Removal of Cap for Liability for Third Party Insurance

The 2016 Bill capped the maximum liability for third party insurance at Rs. 10 lakh in case of death and Rs. 5 lakh in case of grievous injury.  The current Bill seeks to remove the cap on liability.  This may encourage owners to start insuring their vehicles, enabling progress in the field of financial protection in toad safety.

Conclusion

The Government, through the Amendment Bill seeks to promote safe and sustainable mobility in India. The Amendment Bill is a very promising Bill considered to be the biggest reform in the Transportation Sector. The Bill proposes humungous improvement in the realm of road transportation and connectivity in India through mediums of digitalization and automation. Consequently, the Bill leaves no scope for abuse of power by intermediaries/tauts.  Additionally, the Bill recognizes that stakeholders play a significant role in its implementation and imposes liability on them at several stages, so as to achieve the process. However, the success of the Bill would largely depend on the efforts of the Central And State Governments to strictly implement the same.

New H1-B Visa Rules Favoring Advanced Degree Holders To Affect Information Technology Companies In The U.S.

A recent notification by U.S Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) specifying changes to the selection procedure for H1-B cap-subject has received a severe backlash from all across the globe. The proposed rules reversed the order in which H1-B beneficiaries are selected.

According to the advanced notification, the new rules governing H1-B visa will now favor applicants with higher pay and an advanced degree over other less-skilled applicants.

Earlier, advanced degree applicants holding a degree higher than masters degree from a recognized US education institution, had a separate quota of 20,000 from which applicants were picked in a lottery system. There was a congressionally mandated annual H-1B cap of 65,000 for anyone with no master’s degree. Now, USCIS has included all advanced degree holders in the lottery for the regular cap and has also changed the order in which the lottery system will be conducted. Now, the regular cap lottery would be conducted first, followed by the second lottery if there are enough remaining advanced-degree holders to meet the advanced-degree exemption.

According to a report by Press Trust of India (PTI), this policy change will lead to a hit on IT companies’ profitability as the number of HI1-B visas approved is going to get reduced. This will reduce the number of visas available to less-skilled workers employed by the Indian IT companies.

This is likely to lead to 10 percent reduction in H1-B visa approvals for regular applicants, where the applicant is without an advance degree masters or higher from US universities, rating agency Icra was quoted stating in a report by Financial Express.

 

 

High Court’s Order On Law Exam Paper Row

Last month, an examination question  regarding a Muslim slaughtering a cow in front of three Hindus caused a furor across the nation.

The aforementioned question formed a part of the Law of Crime-1 paper conducted by Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU) on December 7. This question sparked a row of controversies when the supreme court lawyer Bilal Anwar tweeted an image of the question paper stating that the question asked in the paper dehumanized the entire community. The tweet was retweeted several times before it came under the scrutiny of politicians, lawyers, and journalists from across the country.

According to a report by The Indian Express, the university, when contacted, said that they regretted the question and decided to delete it later. They further stated that they will not evaluate the students on their answer.

Succumbing to the political pressure and without conducting a full and fair inquiry into the matter, the University passed the impugned adverse order on 20.12.2018 barring professors, Dr. Upma Gautam, and Dr. Rakesh Kumar, who had made the question paper, from setting or moderating any question paper for the next six semesters.

Thereafter, the Deputy Cheif Minister of Delhi ordered an inquiry into the matter. He passed as impugned order dated 31.12.2018 ordering the immediate termination of professors in charge of setting the question paper. In an interview to the Indian Expresses, he was quoted saying,

“It is very bizarre and seems to be an attempt to disturb the harmony of society. We won’t tolerate such misconduct. I am ordering an inquiry, and if found true, strongest action will be taken.”

In pursuance to this order, a meeting of Board of Management of the University was called to discuss the illegal termination of the professor.

Stating that the decision to terminate was in violation of Article 311 and Article 14 of the constitution, the professors approached the High Court seeking appropriate remedies.

During the hearing, the counsel for the petitioners vehemently argued that the allegations of inciting communal violence were false, as the question was asked only to check the student’s understanding of the offenses under the Section 153 and 153A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 falling under the Unit “Offenses Against Public Tranquility” of their syllabus. They also argued that the orders dated 20.12.2018 and 31.12.2018 had a chilling effect on the scholarly independence and the right of the petitioner to carry out their professional obligations without fear.

 

The High Court, after listening to the arguments led by both the parties, finally granted interim relief in favor of the professors, setting aside the order of the university and the directions of the deputy CM, and thereby upholding the rules governing principles of natural justice.