Obtaining degree certificate, a cause of celebration, has turned into a nightmare for doctors, who despite being busy in treating COVID-19 patients have to struggle to get their certificates from the DU, the Delhi High Court said on Tuesday.
Justice Prathiba M Singh, who was unhappy with the conduct of Delhi University (DU) for not taking proper steps to issue digital degrees to students who have graduated, said there is a "complete collapse of administration" in the varsity and it reflects a "sorry state of affairs".
The high court was hearing various petitions by 21 doctors who completed MBBS graduation in 2018 and 2019 from Lady Hardinge Medical College, Maulana Azad Medical College and University College of Medical Sciences, affiliated with the DU, but have not received their degree certificates till date.
The court said that despite giving sufficient time to the varsity, it has not taken proper steps and there seems to be a complete mental block in issuance of digital degrees.
"Issuance of degree which is a cause of celebration has turned into a nightmare for these doctors who are otherwise busy in treating COVID-19 patients," it observed.
Justice Singh formed a committee consisting of three officials -- an officer from Delhi High Court IT department, a senior officer from DigiLocker (an initiative by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) and Joint Director of DU Computer Centre Sanjeev Singh -- to work on the issue of digital documents.
The court directed that the officials shall meet on Wednesday in the DU office of Singh and obtain a sample degree certificate of one of the petitioners and it should be digitally signed.
The court said the sample degree certificate be placed before it on the next date of hearing on August 7 and also directed the committee to file a status report before it.
DigiLocker is an initiative under Digital India, in which the government aimed at transforming India into a digitally empowered society. It provides citizens a shareable private space on a public cloud and makes all documents or certificates available on cloud.
The court was informed that DU has registered on DigiLocker on August 3 itself and the facility is provided under the National Academic Depository (NAD), which is a digital database of academic awards provided by the Central government.
Some of the petitioners, represented through advocate Sarthak Maggon, submitted that they wish to apply for their residency programmes in the United States and to sit in the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and the August 15 is the last date by which the degree certificates would have to be uploaded for processing to the 'My ECFMG' mobile application.
The high court noted that the doctors have been struggling to get their original degrees released and when the efforts did not yield results, they approached the court.
It noted that in the last hearing, DU was asked to submit the protocol for issuing degree certificates, mark sheets and transcripts online with digital signatures and security features.
However, instead of that, the varsity has asked the doctors to fill an application for issuance of special certificates, which are given to those who do not have their degrees.
The university has asked them to submit scanned photographs, mark-sheets and other identity proofs along with a fee of Rs 500.
The court said there is a complete lack of arrangement for issuance of digital certificates and instead of simplifying the procedure, the varsity had made it more complicated.
Earlier, the court had directed the varsity to take a pragmatic approach and seriously consider the option of setting up a special cell for entertaining students issues of digital certificates, mark sheets and transcripts.
It had said most institutions have made alternative arrangements during the lockdown period for issuance of digital certificates, digital mark sheets and digital transcripts online, along with the digital signatures and security features.
It had said most of DU is under lockdown and there is very minimal physical interface between students and the administration. There is no reason as to why DU should not be adopting technically advanced methods to ensure that the students are not inconvenienced.
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