Supreme Court Issues Notice to UGC Over Final-Year Exams in Sep
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan issued a notice to the UGC over conduct of final-year exams in September.
The Supreme Court on Monday, 27 July, asked the University Grants Commission (UGC) to file by 29 July, its reply over a slew of petitions challenging the commission’s guidelines advising that final-year degree exams be conducted by the end of September 2020.
During the hearing, which was presided over by Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for one of the petitioners, said that conducting these exams amid the coronations pandemic was ‘unrealistic and remarkable.’
“States have been given no discretion. This is done without any law or act. The guidelines are unrealistic and harsh. Many states have objected to this. Maharashtra, West Bengal have strongly objected.”Abhishek Manu Singhvi
Referring to 50,000 new coronavirus cases per day in India, Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, who was appearing for a group of 30 students from across the country, said that there needs to be a stay on guidelines issued by the UGC, till the matter is decided by the apex court.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UGC and Centre, said that out of 818 universities, 35 have not started conducting final-year exams, 209 have completed the exams, and 394 are in the process of conducting the exams.
Reiterating the UGC guidelines, SG Mehta said that exams may be held “online, offline or a merger of both. There are MHRD and MHA guidelines which state that not more than 10 students (will be allowed) in one room with social distancing.”
The matter will now be heard on Friday, 31 July.
Who are the Petitioners?
- Yuva Sena - The youth wing of Maharashtra powerhouse Shiv Sena has filed a petition on the directions of its leader Aditya Thackeray, challenging the guidelines of the UGC and requesting the apex court that each university be allowed to chart out its own plan of action with regard to terminal semester/final-year examinations depending on the conditions in their states.
- Students Across India - Around 30 students from across the country, including a COVID-19-positive student, have moved the Supreme Court asking that final-year students be considered at par with CBSE, ICSE & NIOS and that results be declared on the basis of internal assessment.
- Yash Dubey - A final-year law student in Bhopal, Dubey has argued that the revised UGC guidelines are in violation of the fundamental rights enshrined under Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life and Personal Liberty) of the Constitution of India, they undermine the health, safety, fair and equal opportunity for the students.
What do revised UGC Guidelines say?
According to revised UGC guideline, final-year university examinations may be conducted by the end of September, either online, offline or through a combination of both.
The guidelines also say that in case a student is unable to write final-year exams, she can appear for a special examination at a later period, as and when feasible.
For students of the first and second semester, there have been no change in guidelines. This means that universities can evaluate students on the basis of internal assessment and marks scored in previous semesters, if they are unable to conduct exams due to the prevailing situation.
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