December 2, 2020.
TED NewsDesk, Madras: The outbreak of COVID-19 is leading the country to shift towards online platforms in almost every field. From classrooms to court proceedings, almost everything is taking place virtually. In one such incident, the college students made several attempts to witness the court’s hearing on the case of cancellation of arrears examination, filed by them against the Madras government. Their failure in the same led a group of students to live telecast the proceedings on Tuesday. The students streamed the court’s hearing live under the title ‘Arrears’. As soon as the court stated, the video reached more than a thousand viewers, including the media. As a result, they had to stop the telecast. The students somehow gained access to the online proceeding which was being held on Microsoft Teams, thus sharing the video using the cast option on YouTube.
The division bench comprised of Justices Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha who began the proceedings on November 20. Soon after, 250 students gained unauthorised access and started the protest against the government by shouting to cancel the exams. Following the chaos, the court had to cancel the process. However, it restarted on December 1 where the court took necessary precautions by allowing only the advocates listed for each case. It further restricted media outlets from covering the case. The judges, while giving the provisional guidelines on the plea, took serious note of the live streaming initiated by the students.
It noted, “In the light of the fact that certain persons are abusing this virtual system, we are shifting the arrears challenge petitions to physical hearing.”
Besides, it warned the students to charge them with contempt for YouTube live streaming. It finally announced its decision to conduct offline proceedings of the case. It also issued the interim directions by barring all the Universities in the state from promoting students who did not pass in any paper/papers without taking their arrear exams. It directed the institutions to conduct either offline or online arrear exam before declaring them as pass.
Moreover, the court also denied the state’s argument to cancel the exam in the view of the pandemic. As per the University Grants Commission counsel, the state also violated UGC guidelines by cancelling the examinations. One of the petitioners also informed that Universities like Madras University and Manonmaniam Sundaranar University are issuing the results without taking any exam. The court ordered the Universities to commence exams despite the state’s order to cancel them.
“Let the state government permit Universities to conduct the arrear examinations if they want to conduct it and the choice has to be left to them,” it said.
Ordering the state to file their submissions, the court suspended the appeal till January 11.