The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) on Monday informed the Bombay High Court it has asked all deemed universities and institutions affiliated to
it to follow guidelines issued by Universities Grants Commission (UGC) and conduct final year degree exams.
The AICTE's affidavit was in response to a public interest litigation filed by a retired professor seeking to quash the decision of the Maharashtra government to cancel final year degree exams of professional and non-professional courses in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The affidavit said AICTE has decided to follow safety guidelines issued by UGC since it takes into account the interest of the students, necessity of conducting exams and also the health and safety of the students.
"In view of this, the AICTE requested all deemed universities, technical institutions and polytechnics affiliated to AICTE to follow the UGC guidelines to conduct
examinations in offline (pen and paper) or online or blended (offline plus online) mode," the affidavit said. The state government, in its affidavit filed last week, said it had taken the decision to cancel exams in view of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra and due to the risk of spread of the virus through paper.
The petition by Dhananjay Kulkarni, retired teacher and ex-senate member from Pune, said the state government has no power to take such a decision. He challenged the June 19 government resolution saying under Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016, the Chancellor has overall jurisdiction and the state has no power
to take a decision aboutexams.
As per the plea, theUGChad, on April 27, directed all universities to conductexamsand declare its schedule. However, after a student organisation wrote to state
minister of Higher and Technical Education, theexamsin the state were postponed and then subsequently cancelled by way of the resolution.
As per the resolution, there are 7,34,516 final year students in non-professional courses and 2,83,937 students in their final year in professional courses in Maharashtra. The high court is expected to take up the petition for hearing on July 31.