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Supreme Court to Hear Pleas Challenging UGC Revised Guidelines to Conduct Final Year Exams Today

A bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan is set to hear a batch of pleas challenging the UGC Guidelines mandating completion of final year exams by universities before September 30.

News18.com

Updated:July 31, 2020, 11:42 AM IST
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Supreme Court to Hear Pleas Challenging UGC Revised Guidelines to Conduct Final Year Exams Today
File photo of the Supreme Court building.

The Supreme Court on Friday will hear the matter related to the pleas challenging University Grants Commission's (UGC) revised guidelines ordering varsities to conduct the final year exams across the country.

A bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan is set to hear a batch of pleas challenging the UGC Guidelines mandating completion of final year exams by universities before September 30.

The UGC on Thursday justified in the Supreme Court its decision directing all universities and institutions to hold final year/semester examinations in September saying it was done to protect the academic future of students across the country.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) filed a 50-page affidavit on a batch of petitions, including the one filed by Shiv Sena's youth wing 'Yuva Sena', which have challenged its guidelines issued on July 6 for holding the exams in September amidst the persisting coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It said that in June this year, considering the evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, it requested the expert committee to revisit the April 29 guidelines, by which it had asked the Universities and Institutions to hold final year examinations in July 2020. "Accordingly, the expert committee (which also included vice-chancellors of technical universities and a representative of industry) did so, and submitted a report recommending that terminal semester/final year examinations should be conducted by universities/ institutions by the end of September, 2020 in offline (pen & paper)/ online/ blended (online + offline) mode," the UGC said.

It added that this report of the expert committee was deliberated and approved by the UGC in its emergent meeting held on July 6, since the conduct of the final year/terminal examination is a time-sensitive issue. "Consequently, the UGC immediately issued the ‘Revised Guidelines on Examination and Academic Calendar for the Universities in view of COVID-19 Pandemic' on July 6", it said, adding that all universities/ institutions in the country are obligated to conduct terminal semester/final year examination by the end of September, 2020.

The UGC said it has issued such guidelines to "protect the academic future of students across the country which will be irreparably damaged if their final year/terminal semester examinations are not held, while also keeping in mind their health and safety". Assailing the decisions of some states like Maharashtra and Delhi of cancelling the final year examinations, the commission said that such decisions directly affect 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. "Therefore, the decisions of certain State Governments (Maharashtra and Delhi) to either cancel the terminal semester/final year examinations for UG/PG students, and/or to graduate such students and confer degrees without appearing for the final year/terminal semester examinations is plainly contrary to the UGC's guidelines," it said.

The UGC justified the revised guidelines issued on July 6 and said that it adequately takes into account the evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic because it provide sufficient time till the end of September 2020 to conduct the final year/terminal semester examinations after following the prescribed protocols and procedures relating to COVID-19. "It gives sufficient flexibility to universities/ institutions to conduct such examinations online, offline (pen and paper) or blended (online + offline) mode and provide for an examination through special chance for students who "for whatsoever the reason(s) may be" are unable to appear for the examination conducted by a university/institution by end of September, 2020", the UGC said.

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. "It is also wrong to say that students will be ‘forced' to appear for such examinations at the cost of their health because the UGC's guidelines permit universities/institutions to hold examinations as a special chance for those students who are unable to participate in the examinations that will be held by the end of September 2020," it added.

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