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Latoya Mistral Ferns Vs University Of Mumbai & Anr (2021): Relaxation For LLB Students As Bombay HC Orders Mumbai University To Withdraw Circular

Tushar Bansode ,
  31 July 2021       Share Bookmark

Court :
Bombay High Court
Brief :
This judgement answers the question of whether the BCI and Mumbai University are permitted to issue circulars to withdraw already declared results and conduct an alternative assessment. In this case ABE (Assignment Based Evaluation).
Citation :
Writ Petition (L) NO.15799 OF 2021, WithIntervention Application (L) NO.16302 OF 2021


Date of Judgement:
28 July 2021

Bench:
Justice R.D. Dhanuka
Justice R.I. Chagla

Parties:
Petitioner – Latoya Mistral Ferns
Respondents – University of Mumbai &Anr.

Subject

This judgement answers the question of whether the BCI and Mumbai University are permitted to issue circulars to withdraw already declared results and conduct an alternative assessment. In this case ABE (Assignment Based Evaluation).

Overview

  • In light of the COVID-19 crisis, results of students of LL.B. (3 years) Semesters 2 and 4, LL.B. (5 years) and BBA LL.B. (5 years) Semester 2, 4, 6 and 8 were declared based on average scores of previous semesters on 22.05.2020.
  • However, in accordance with the directives issued by the Bar Council of India (BCI), Mumbai University released a circular dated 05.07.2021. It stated that the result earlier declared on the basis of average scores is now withdrawn. It also said that now the result will be on the basis of Assignment Based Evaluation (ABE).
  • In simple words, these students have to prepare a total of 8 assignments (2 assignments for each subject) and submit them within 21 days.
  • Aggrieved by this, a petition was filed by Latoya Mistral Ferns (petitioner) who is a final year student of Government Law College, Mumbai. She has a learning disability- Attention Deficit Disorder and is also a patient under treatment for acute stress.
  • The petitioner was of the opinion that neither the BCI nor the University of Mumbai has the power to issue such orders.

Issues

  • Whether the BCI or the University of Mumbai have the authority to issue such circulars to withdraw results that are already declared?

Judgement Analysis

  • The learned counsel for the petitioner urged vehemently that the circular by Mumbai University dated 05.07.2021 was arbitrary and hence should be declared invalid. He also said that it is very unreasonable that the students have to submit a total of 8 assignments within such a short span.
  • The learned counsel for Mumbai University (Mr .Ashutosh Kulkarni), stated that the circular was released as per the directives issued by the BCI through a press release dated 10.06.2021.
  • After listening to this, the Court maintained a prima facie view that such circulars to withdraw already declared results is not allowed. They also questioned the learned counsel for BCI (Mr. Amit Sale), as to how they can unilaterally withdraw the results with retrospective effect.
  • At the next hearing, Mr. Amit Sale in his statement cleared out that the directives of BCI were meant to have a prospective effect and not a retrospective effect. Hence, they shall not apply or affect the results declared prior to 10.05.2021.
  • Also, Mr. Kulkarni, as per the instructions of Mumbai University, stated that they will have no reservations or objections in withdrawing its circular dated 05.07.2021. Also, the result declared earlier in the year 2020 on the basis of the average of previous semesters, shall be restored.
  • Mr. Kulkarni also assured the Court that within 2 weeks the results for all the semesters referred to in the circular dated 05.07.2021 will be declared and marksheets will be issued.

Conclusion

In conclusion, relief was granted to LL.B. students. The Court also appreciated the stand taken by the respondents and also hoped that this judgement will be of some comfort to the students who had suffered mental trauma, due to the actions of the respondents. The honorable Court disposed of the petition with no order as to the costs.

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

 
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