Mumbai, Mar 30 (PTI) In an interim relief to 40 students pursuing a course in optometry, the Bombay High Court has directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to declare their second semester results pending since last year. Also Read - Uddhav Launches Fresh Salvo at BJP Over Free Vaccine Promise, GST; Dares Party to Topple Maha Govt | Highlights

A bench of Justices R M Sawant and S V Kotwal was earlier this week hearing a petition filed by Lotus College of Optometry, which had admitted the 40 students as the first batch of its four-year BSc degree in Optometry (health specialists in eye care) in 2016. Also Read - Mumbai Becomes India's First City With Over 10,000 Deaths Due to Coronavirus

The course was affiliated to an open university. Also Read - Mumbai Shocker: Woman Stabs 12-year-old Daughter With Pencil, Bites Her Multiple Times For Failing to Answer in Online Class

However, a question mark now looms over the fate of the course as well as that of the students since, soon after their first semester exams in 2016, the Maharashtra government issued a communication to the UGC stating that Optometry was a medical course and therefore could not be affiliated with an open university.

As per the current rules of the state government, all medical courses are governed by the process laid down by the Maharashtra Medical Sciences Authority.

However, since the Juhu college had already admitted the above students, it moved the High Court challenging the above communication.

While a hearing on the main plea is pending in the HC, various benches of the court have been issuing orders from time to time to help the above students appear for their semester exams.

Following directions of the court, the students were permitted by the state and the UGC to appear for their first, second, and third semester exams.

While they are waiting now for admissions to the fourth semester, the results of their second semester exams were held back by authorities on the ground that the issue of course’s recognition was yet to be decided upon.

Incidentally, their third semester results were declared by authorities after some persuasion by students.

The bench, however, noted that since the students had already been admitted before the breach in procedure was flagged by the state, their interest must not be prejudiced.

It thus directed the state and UGC to resolve the issue over their second semester results and publish the same.

“The relief of declaration of the results of the second semester is sought on the ground that otherwise, the students  will not be allowed to appear for the 4th semester.

“Having regard to this piquant situation which has arisen namely on account of the fact that the admissions have been carried out by the petitioner (the college) without following the prescribed procedure.

“However, with a view to see to it that the students, who have already gained admissions are not prejudiced, we direct the authorities to declare the results,” the bench said.

The bench also said that it will begin hearing the main issue of recognition of the course in June.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.