Days after being hailed as a hero for leading the India Under 19 side to World Cup victory, cricketer Unmukt Chand is in an unenviable position as he stands to lose a year of college due to low attendance.
The Delhi University rules mandate a student to have at least 33.3 per cent attendance in an academic session after all exemptions, but Unmukt, a student of St Stephen's college, could not attend the requisite number of tutorials owing to his cricketing engagements. He was thus denied permission to appear for the first year BA examinations by his college.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, meanwhile, on Thursday came out in support of Chand. "Marks for sports takes back seat attendance for now takes centrestage. This shows how much importance sports has in INDIA. Sad to hear," Dhoni wrote on Twitter.
While the cricketer's case is in the Delhi High Court, St Stephen's Principal Valson Thampu said it is up to the University administration to decide as it is the varsity's rules of attendance.
Unmukt was denied an admit card for the second semester examination in May but the court intervened and asked the college to allow him to sit for the exams. However, the 19-year-old could appear only in two out of four papers as by the time the court ruling came he had already missed two. His results, and hence promotion, have been withheld pending trial.
"I spoke to my sports teacher and the Principal and they are willing to help me out in the next semester," Unmukt said.
"We never thought such a thing could happen to Unmukt. The matter should have been resolved without appealing. It should have been solved in an amicable atmosphere," said his father Bharat Chand, a school teacher. He said the matter was now subjudice and the court will now hear it on September 16.
Thampu, on his part, said he had no control over the University rules, and only the administration can make an exception. Asked if an exception can be made for a national level talent like Unmukt, Thampu told PTI: "It depends on the University. The interesting thing is I take all the blame about an issue I have absolutely no control over".
"Do you think I can shortchange the rules of the University?" he asked after alumni associations expressed support for the cricketer.
Former Indian cricketer and alumni of St Stephen's Kirti Azad said it was unfair to punish a player who was representing the country. "When I was representing my country, I used to get special attention for all of that. Unmukt has won the World Cup for us. He is a good young man, he has secured good marks. Penalising him is really unfair on the part of the college," Azad said.
The university mandates that a student should pass 50 per cent of all exams in both semesters combined to be promoted.
Meanwhile, Indian Premier League commissioner, Rajeev Shukla put the ball in Unmukt's court by stating that the BCCI can't interfere in the varsity's rules of attendance.
"It's purely their own decision, their own procedures and they go by that. We can't interfere in that. BCCI can only request the college authorities," Shukla told reporters outside the Parliament.
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