The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the University Grants Commission's (UGC) decision to have final year exams conducted by September 30.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that there was no infirmity in the July 6 circular that asked universities across the country to complete final year exams by the said deadline.
It also maintained that states and universities will have to hold exams to promote students and confer degrees, and that internal assessments will not suffice the requirements of the UGC.
About the decision taken by some states to not conduct exams by September 30, the bench held that although the states will be authorised to postpone exams under the Disaster Management Act, they will not be able to confer degrees on students without exams.
The top court further said that states should approach the UGC with their problems and asking for suitable reliefs regarding the final year exams.
The bench was adjudicating a clutch of petitions against the UGC's July 6 directive to the universities for holding the final year/semester exams by September 30.
Student petitioners sought cancellation of exams in view of the soaring cases of COVID-19, and demanded they should be assessed on the basis of internal assessments and past performances.
Four states and Union territories – Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal and Odisha – supported this in the top court and apprised the bench of their decision to cancel the exams.
UGC and Centre, on their part, maintained that holding exams was in the best interest of students and that a SOP was in place to ensure safety of students at the examination centres.
They also submitted that states have no power to cancel degree exams or devise their own way of assessing students since UGC was the only authority under the law to provide for standards and confer degrees.
The bench was told that students' degrees might not be recognised unless UGC's mandate is followed by all universities.