Supreme Court asked States and UGC to submit their arguments regarding final year examination. Four states and Union territories – Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal and Odisha – Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to direct the University Grants Commission (UGC) not impose the final year examination on lakhs of university students during an ongoing pandemic. The apex court has concluded the hearing but deferred a judgement on the issue. A three judge bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and B.R Gavai heard all the parties for almost four hours. The bench gave states and the UGC three days time to submit their final written arguments. The court shall also decide whether the states have power under Disaster Management Act to defer final examination till situation normalizes in contradictions to UGC’s guidelines.
Arguments of States
States said they were not consulted before finalizing the UGC guidelines. They also argued that state governments have the power to take health related decisions in the interest of people and the UGC exam guidelines interfere with their rights. Senior Advocate Arvind Datar representing Maharashtra submitted that the state is the worst affected and highlighted two issues — first, he submitted that “there is nothing arbitrary in a University taking a decision against UGC. If IIT can do that, others can too.”
Secondly, he argued that direction of UGC to all Universities to hold exam it at any cost by 30 Sept is a complete violation of its powers and is outside the scope of the powers of UGC. “It is ultra vires of UGC to mandate the exams to be held by Sept 30,” said Datar.
Advocate General of Odisha highlighted that it would be a herculean task for the hostels to accommodate students since colleges have been closed since March and house owners will not be willing to accommodate students. He added, “We have been writing to the government to make them understand this situation.”
Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan, on behalf of Delhi government submitted that there are students who have grandparents, parents at home and they are not even stepping out of the house. Further many of the students don’t have access to books. “The most hard-hit will be the poor, the downtrodden, and those without any access to technology. Unless you decide to give them all Tablets,” said Vishwanathan
Arguments of UGC
UGC on 6 July had announced that colleges and universities will need to conduct final year and final semester exam by end September. And such exams can be conducted in offline (pen and paper), online or blended (online + offline) mode. The apex education regulator had then said that its decision not to scrap the final semester and final year exams is based in academic prudence and need for maintaining credibility.
During the hearing, the court asked Mehta, whether UGC can override a state where a certain situation is existing and mandate for conducting examination.
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