Coming to the rescue of over 200 students of Delhi University’s (DU) law faculty, the Delhi High Court on Friday quashed a 2017 ordinance that had abolished the supplementary exam for third-year students insofar as it applied to students who had taken admission prior to the academic year 2017-18.

The University Rules, as amended in 2014, provided that if any student fails to clear an exam of any subject in the 1st, 3rd or 5th Semester, a supplementary exam would be held after the 6th Semester, giving the student an opportunity to pass the relevant subject. Similarly, a student who failed to clear the exam of any subject in 2nd, 4th or 6th Semester would get the opportunity clear it in a supplementary exam held after the 6th Semester.

However, through a notification issued on October 2017, the University informed the students of an amendment whereby supplementary exams had been cancelled for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Semester subjects, allowing supplementary exams only for the subjects of the 5th and 6th Semester.

The amendment was retrospective in nature, thereby affecting students who had not cleared some subjects of the 1st to 4th Semester. The Court had now been approached by more than 60 law students, challenging the retrospective application of the amendment.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Rekha Palli acknowledged that Courts have been consistently discouraged from interfering in matters of academic policy. She nevertheless opined that the retrospective nature of the amendment in the case at hand was “wholly arbitrary”.

The Court further observed that DU had failed to consider the effect of the notice on students who had already planned their examination schedules for two years as per the 2014 notification.

It then quashed the notification, ruling, “Thus, I find that the Impugned Notice dated 09.10.2017, insofar as it applies retrospectively to students who took admission prior to the academic year 2017-18, is wholly arbitrary and is, therefore, quashed to that extent. In my opinion, the students who had taken admission before the academic year 2017-18 deserve at least one opportunity to take their supplementary examinations as per the unamended ordinance. Accordingly, the University of Delhi is directed to grant one opportunity to all the students of the LLB Course, who had taken admission prior to the academic year 2017-18, to take their supplementary examinations as per the unamended rules/ordinance contained in notification dated 14.11.2014.”