In a relief to several Mumbai University students, the Bombay High Court on Friday stayed Mumbai University’s new rule that prohibited students from taking additional answer sheet supplements, apart from the 40-page main answer booklet.

The rule was part of a circular dated October 9, 2017, which notified all colleges under the University about the decision to use the Inline Screen Marking system in order to assess all examinations conducted under the aegis of Mumbai University. The new rule to bar students from taking additional answer sheets was a part of this circular.

The petitioner, a final year law student named Manasi Bhushan, argued in her petition that infringes upon the fundamental rights of students guaranteed under Articles 19 (1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution.

Petitioner’s lawyer advocate Vishal Kanade, instructed by Vashi and Vashi, argued that University should focus on mending the current OSM system instead of denying answer sheets to students. He also said law students need extra supplements as they need to write subjective answers sometimes.

As reported earlier, the bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice BP Colabawalla had issued notice to Mumbai University.

The university was of the opinion that the 40-page main answer booklet was sufficient for students. The court rejected this argument and said:

We have come across various cases where students are suffering due to erroneous decisions by the university. Several petitions have been filed by students alleging that their supplementary answer sheets were lost by the university which led them loosing out on marks. Then the University gave these students marks based on the principle of averages, that too after the court intervened.”

The university had argued that all answer sheet booklets issued by the university have separate bar codes, and since the main answer sheet booklets and the supplements booklets had different barcodes, there was some confusion during online assessment.

However, the court said in order to avoid problems in the new OSM system, the university cannot penalise students as it was an erroneous decision on their (university’s) part.

“The idea is that students are provided with as many pages as required to complete their answers. Now whether you provide them loose sheets or another booklet is up to you. Effectively, we cannot allow the university’s last-minute decisions to prejudice the rights of the students,” the court said.

To the university’s argument that there was no scope for high court to intervene, the bench said:“We will deal with this during the final hearing, but we cannot allow the university to prejudice students. The university’s circular, a piece of paper, can’t be considered a piece of delegated legislation.”

Thus, students who are currently writing their winter semester papers will be able to take additional answer sheet supplements.