Report by- Riddhima Bhadauria

The Supreme Court has adjourned till 14 August, a hearing over a bunch of petitions challenging the conduct of final-year exams, after the University Grants Commission (UGC) submitted an affidavit mentioning that all universities in the country must conduct final-year exams by the end of September 2020.The bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah asked if the Disaster Management Act overrides the UGC’s guidelines and sought a reply. The bench further posted the hearing for 14 August.

In the affidavit submitted on Thursday, 30 July, the UGC had justified its guidelines prescribing final-year exams on the grounds that students will be given an opportunity to appear for special exams if they are unable to write the ones scheduled in September.

The UGC also said that it was working in the best interests of students.

“UGC has issued such guidelines to protect the academic future of students across the country which will be irreparably damaged if final year or terminal semester examinations are not held, while also keeping in mind their health & safety.”

According to the UGC, universities were asked to inform the status of holding the exams and responses were received from 818 universities including 121 deemed, 291 private, 51 central and 355 state universities. Of the total 818 universities, 603 have either conducted or are planning to hold the examinations, while 209 have already conducted exams in either online or offline mode. As per the report, 394 universities are planning to hold exams (online/ offline/blended mode) in August and September.

Recently the Delhi government submitted before the supreme court that deputy chief minister/delhi higher and technical education minister of NCT of Delhi directed that all delhi state universities to cancel all written online and offline semester exams including final year exams.

Key points..

  • Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, lawyer appearing for 31 students, said that he would request the top court to grant relief to students considering their health, safety and job/admission opportunities. Anubha Srivastava Sahai, the chief of the India Wide Parents’ Association also hoped for a verdict in the students’ favour.
  • During the previous hearing on July 31, the top court had refused to pass any interim order. However, it had asked the Centre to clear the stand of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on the issue.
  • SC Mehta had told the court that they are only concerned with final-year exams and out of over 800 universities in the country, 209 have completed the examinations. He said that around 390 universities are in the process of conducting the examinations.
  • On decisions of some states like Maharashtra and Delhi to cancel final-year exams, the commission had said that it directly affects the standards of higher education and will be an encroachment on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education that is exclusively reserved for Parliament under Schedule VII of the Constitution.
  • It said that the Universities/Institutions may conduct such special examinations as and when feasible so that the students concerned are not put to any inconvenience or disadvantage.

Decision till now..

The Supreme Court of India has adjourned the hearing on the UGC Case challenging the decision to conduct the final year examinations till August 14.

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