On Tuesday, August 18, 2020, the Supreme Court has reserved its order on the petitions filed by a group of students demanding to cancel the final year exams which will be held by University Grants Commission (UGC). Although the hearing has been completed in the apex court on 18 August, the verdict is still to come.
The bench has given three days’ time to the states and the UGC to present their final written arguments.
A decision on whether states have the power under the Disaster Management Act to delay the final exam until the situation returns to normal, contrary to the UGC guidelines will also come with the final verdict by the apex court.
UGC guidelines states that all final year students will have to give the end term examinations this year, and the students from intermediate semesters will be passed on the basis of the internal assessment and performance in previous semesters.
Now all eyes of the students and institutions are on the Supreme Court’s judgment that will be out soon. Thus, the court is expected to announce its verdict by Monday.
Prior to reserving orders on final year exams conducting by UGC matter, the bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah heard the petitioners. The bench heard Delhi, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Odisha before reserving orders.
Details of UGC Guidelines:
There is no difference in the UGC exam guidelines issued on April 22, 2020 and July 6, 2020.
As per the guidelines of April 22, the UGC gave instructions to hold the examinations till 31 August, while in the guidelines of July 6, the instructions have been given to conduct the examinations till 30 September.
The UGC has directed to conduct the final year exams. UGC took the decision as they felt that learning is a dynamic process and the only way to assess one’s knowledge through the exam.
Demand to cancel the examinations amid COVID-19:
By filing a petition in the Supreme Court against the guidelines mandating final year exams by the UGC, t
Putting stress on the issue of increasing COVID-19 cases with every passing day after filing a petition in the Supreme Court against the UGC guidelines to hold the exam and mandating it for students to appear, students said that the health and life of students will be at high risk if the exams are taking place in such horrifying situation.
Due to this students are seeking to cancel the guidelines of the UGC and declare the result on the basis of the past performance.
The Delhi and Maharashtra governments have expressed their concerns regarding this matter.
Supreme Court hearing status on UGC guidelines so far
- The Supreme Court reserved judgement on whether the final year degree examinations in universities should be held before September 30, in accordance with UGC guidelines.
- The top court will also decide whether state governments have the power to take a decision against conducting final year examinations under the Disaster Management Act.
- A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan has reserved the judgement on a batch of PILs along with some state governments – Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi – questioning the UGC direction to universities to conduct final year exams before September 30.
- The state governments have argued that they have the power to promote students without exams in the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
- Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UGC, contended before the top court that final year is the degree year and exams cannot be done away with.
- Mehta cited examples of exams being conducted by some universities and added that many top-level universities have opted for online exams. Mehta insisted that foreign universities and further education require degrees.
- Citing the UGC guidelines, Mehta contended before the bench that these guidelines are not merely for preaching and that they are mandatory.
- The guidelines which have been challenged before the top court have a statutory mandate, Solicitor General added.