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New Delhi [India], July 31 : The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing of a batch of pleas challenging the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) July 6 circular and seeking cancellation of final terms examinations due to COVID-19 pandemic, to August 10.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan asked Maharashtra and Delhi governments to place on record decision of state disaster management committee. The court also asked the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to clear its stand.
The affidavit was filed on a batch of pleas challenging UGC’s July 6 circular and seeking cancellation of final term examination in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
UGC had told the Supreme Court that let nobody be under the impression that final exams due by September-end will be stayed because the Supreme Court is hearing the case. Students should continue to prepare for their exams, UGC said.
On Thursday UGC had defended before the Supreme Court its decision whereby all universities all across India have been asked to wrap up the final term examinations before September 30.
“All universities/institutions obligated to conduct terminal semester/ final year exam by the end of September 2020,” UGC said in its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court.
The UGC in its affidavit sticking to its circular submitted that it has taken into account the evolving situation of COVID-19 and sufficient time has been given to conduct the exams.
“Moreover, universities have been given sufficient flexibility to conduct exam via online, offline or hybrid modes,” it added.
“In case a student is unable to appear for the exam, they would be given a chance to appear at a specially conducted exam at a later date so that the student is not put to any inconvenience or disadvantage,” added the affidavit.
It further submitted that the decision of states like Maharashtra and Delhi to either cancel exams for undergraduate and postgraduate students and/or to graduate them and confer degrees without appearing for final exams is plainly “contrary to the UGC guidelines”.
“Such a decision directly affects the standards of higher education in the country and will be an encroachment on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education reserved exclusively for the parliament under Entry 66 of List I of Schedule VII of the Constitution of India,” the affidavit submitted while urging the top court to dismiss the pleas.
It said that “The final year exams are important as learning is a dynamic process where the only way to figure out what students know is by seeking evidence of their knowledge.”
Earlier, the top court had sought UGC’s response on the petition challenging its July 6 circular asking all universities to complete the final term examinations before September 30.
One petition filed by as many as 31 students from different universities across India, urged that the exams should be cancelled and the results of such students should be calculated on the basis of their internal assessment or past performance.
One of the students, among the 31 petitioners, has tested positive for COVID-19 and prayed for directions to the UGC to adopt the CBSE model and conduct an examination at a later date for the students who are not satisfied with the marks awarded on the basis of the assessment.
Another petition on the issue, filed in the apex court by final year law student Yash Dubey, also sought cancellation of UGC mandated final year exams. Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray has also moved the apex court on behalf of Yuva Sena, the youth wing of Shiv Sena, against the mandated final year exams in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases.
As per the UGC, universities were approached to inform the status of the conduct of examinations and responses received from 818 universities (121 deemed universities, 291 private universities, 51 central universities, and 355 state universities).
Out of the 818 universities, 603 have either conducted the examination or are planning to conduct. Meanwhile, 209 others have already conducted examination (on-line/off-line), 394 are planning to conduct examination (on-line/off-line/blended mode) in August or September.
The commission has also said that for 35 universities, of which 27 are private, seven state-run, and one deemed university, the first batch is yet to become eligible for the final exams. (ANI)