This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Jugal Mundra. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Is Bombay HC Right In Putting A Stay On 60:40 Pattern For Mumbai University Law Exams?

On October 29, the Bombay High Court stayed the implementation of the 60:40 exam pattern at all law colleges affiliated to the Mumbai University (MU) for the academic year 2018-19. In August 2018, the MU decided to introduce the 60:40 assessment system in law colleges. Simply put, it meant that 60 marks would be given for the semester-end exam while 40 marks would be ‘internal assessment’ for which the college would give marks. This would be a shift from the prevailing pattern where only a 100 mark semester-end examination is conducted (the ‘100:0 system’).

The suggested break-up of the 40 marks would be: 10 marks for ‘class participation’ and the remaining 30 marks were left to the discretion of the professor – they could be assignments, viva, presentations, class tests or a combination of any of them.

Were There Enough Compelling Reasons To Stay The Assessment Pattern?

It is important to note that similar combinations of internal and external assessments are followed in National law schools, IITs, IIMs and many other Universities in India and abroad. Also, in many law colleges, the internal assessments had already been completed before the HC judgement. Thus, the implementation of the 60:40 rule pattern should have stayed only if there was a compelling need to do so.

Three things are required to implement the 60:40 system Firstly, adequate time to conduct internal assessments. Second, teachers should be sensitised on best practices of conducting internals. Third, a change in the grading process to stem disparity in marks vis-a-vis students in the same college as well as other colleges.

The court in its order cited ‘hurried’ and ‘sudden’ implementation as well as ‘inconvenience’ caused to students who had ‘prepared’ according to the 100:0 system. The circular issued on August 24 and semester-end exams begins in December, Wasn’t this time enough to conduct internal assessments? What was ‘hurried’? My college has already completed all the internal assessments and adequate time was available to students to prepare for the internals (except where teachers notified the entire semester portion for a 10-mark test, but more on that later). Moreover, it is beyond my understanding as to what students had ‘prepared’ for differently until August 24, assuming the 100:0 system would continue. How would have the introduction of 60:40 impacted their ‘preparation’?

The recently conducted internal assessments (now futile) showed that most teachers were unenthusiastic in assessing these 30 marks, with many breathing contentments in copy-pasted assignments or minuscule-portion based class tests. While at the other end of the spectrum, some teachers had let loose the entire semester portion for as less as 10-mark class tests, that too in the middle of the semester!! This confirms the necessity to provide teachers with illustrative models and best practices on conducting internal assessment.

In this regard, the Court cited that there was nothing on record to prove that training had been given to teachers. As things stood, there were two kinds of colleges – one, where internals were already conducted and others where internals were yet to be conducted. For the present semester, training would make sense for the latter set of colleges and the Court and MU could have decided to hold video-based training (for example, uploading necessary resources on open platforms like YouTube) and then cascade them to in-house sessions by colleges. Both wouldn’t take more than a week to conduct, and the only fallout would’ve been the postponement of semester-end exams by a week or two to accommodate internals in November.

For colleges that had already conducted the internal assessment in the present semester (however drab as they may have been), most students accepted them as fair and equitable and hence did not warrant striking down all the time and effort spent. In few cases where manifestly disproportionate syllabus was asked in class tests, students could petition the college and ask for a more equitable assessment.

The Court observed that under the 60:40 system, ‘total disparity in granting assessment marks cannot be ruled out’.

It echoes a concern among students that some colleges would dole out marks while others could be tight-fisted in internal assessment. To my mind, the simple solution is to present percentile-based GPA(s) in the mark sheet, with the GPA/percentile referenced only with the respective college students. Again, this system is followed by almost all distinguished colleges in India. But unlike them, since we’re also competing with thousands of other students at the university level, the university should simultaneously release a percentile score for students for the 60-mark assessment, with percentile referenced to all university students giving that exam. Displaying both on a students’ marksheet would give anybody a fair and well-rounded measure of how well a student had performed. The court could have passed orders to this effect, bringing in place a nearly comprehensive grading system for MU students.

However, the court’s ‘disparity’ observation (and leaving it at that) is worrisome. It forebodes a situation where even next year, the university may be prevented from introducing any internal assessment system because the disparity would remain unless our grading systems change. Thus, the university must accompany the 60:40 system with percentile-based grading.

And agreed, the university has not come out with flying colours in implementing the system – lack of teacher sensitisation, confusion around ATKT assessment, and a lack of firm resolve to implement the system worked against the 60:40 pattern in the court.  But none of the above points is so compelling to put a hold on the implementation of this system.

Should The 60:40 System Be Implemented?

The most compelling reason for junking the 100:0 system is that it completely divorces classroom teaching from examination. A student is not motivated to either attend lectures or to refer to classroom notes. At least for law exams, all (s)he needs to do is be thorough with a few past year exam papers, and regurgitating them on the exam paper can help students easily sail through the passing mark. This also demotivates teachers from delivering anything beyond the textbook pages, because unfortunately, most students barely value anything that doesn’t directly correlate with marks.

The 60:40 system, on the other hand, can lead to a better situation. A teacher can set class tests or ask viva questions which can mirror what has been taught in the classroom, giving importance to what is due. It can also be a conduit for introducing innovative assessments. How about students being given contemporary legal case studies to solve (individually or as a group) and then debate them? Or assigning original research to students with necessary checks to ensure that students engage in original research. A multitude of combinations is possible to make learning and assessment more relevant and exciting.

A word of caution though – colleges should not impose a uniform internal assessment criterion, as that would kill the necessary freedom of assessment that should be available with any teacher. For instance, allowing only ten marks worth discretionary assessment to professors would discourage any innovative assessment involving time and effort of professors. Moreover, a mandated uniform criterion would ensure ‘uniform mediocrity’ in assessment instead of co-existence of good and mediocre assessments – admittedly, the latter scenario leaves us better off.

Some other peripheral arguments were also raised against the 60:40 system. One such argument was that part-time professors occupy most of the faculty positions in law colleges, and thus the 60:40 order would be unimplementable. But empirically, there is not even a shred of evidence to prove that part-time professors have been or would be any less successful (or otherwise) in any aspect of teaching – be it conducting lectures or internal exams. One petition complained that introducing the 60:40 system violated students’ ‘rights’ who had taken admission assuming the 100:0 system. Well, perhaps it violates our right to do only rote learning (in the 100:0 system) or the right to shun an assessment system that is the norm of the day in any university worth its’ salt across the world. Are we now saying that a University cannot alter its assessment patterns from the beginning of the academic year?

Some students have opposed the 60:40 system claiming that it will lead to ‘corruption’. Well, if our college teachers can be trusted so less, why not agitate against the recently-given power to colleges for checking semester-end papers of their students? In fact, why even rely on college office staff (which would ostensibly be more corruptible than a faculty member assuming lower salary) to conduct college admissions? One fails to understand what sets Mumbai law college professors apart from other university professors on the corruptible quotient.

Before concluding, another sore point for many students are the ten marks assigned for ‘class participation’, which in most colleges, is substituted by attendance percentage as the only deciding factor. In my opinion, if a teacher can indeed record the class participation and allot marks on that basis (despite a large student: teacher ratio), nothing better. Many distinguished colleges in our country also do this. But even if they can’t, what’s wrong in just letting attendance be the deciding factor? Either way, the need of the hour is to reverse the prevailing trend of low attendance in law colleges. And since marks are the sole motivation for most students to do or not do anything, giving marks for attendance will be a fair and objective way of meeting the end.

Way Forward

Internal assessments are not a panacea to the problems afflicting our University education system. Leaving aside the University administration woes (especially on conducting the external exams), our classrooms need talented and motivated faculty more than anything else. But they won’t come or stick around in a system that doesn’t motivate students to go beyond the textbook, to attend classes or allow teachers to assess their students. And in that lies the main merit of the 60:40 system.

Going forward, the Court has asked MU to notify 60:40 in advance for the next year and ‘put the students on notice’. I can’t imagine what students must do or change to be ‘prepared’ for this notice, but surely, we have delayed the crucial onset of bringing our assessment process at par with bare minimum standards expected today.

You must be to comment.

More from Jugal Mundra

Similar Posts

By Imran Hasib

By Meemansa Narula

By Harshita Solanki

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below