UGC Guidelines 2020: Supreme Court verdict likely soon on final year exams
- The Supreme Court on August 18 had reserved judgement on whether the
final yeardegree examinations in universities should be held before September 30, in accordance with the University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines.
- The state government counsels have argued that they have the power to promote students without exams in the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
AdvertisementAll eyes will be on the Supreme Court this week as students and institutions await the verdict on the UGC case and final year examinations expected soon. At the last hearing on August 18, the apex court had reserved its order and asked for parties to respond and present written submissions on their final arguments within three days. The Supreme Court on August 18 had reserved judgement on whether the final year degree examinations in universities should be held before September 30, in accordance with the University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines. The state government counsels have argued that they have the power to promote students without exams in the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The top court will also decide whether state governments have the power to take a decision against conducting final year examinations under the Disaster Management Act.
In our #UGC matter, Supreme Court has heard all of us today & arguments are concluded.We will submit our final wr… https://t.co/altI2oDlVS— Alakh Alok Srivastava (@advocate_alakh) 1597740451000
Highlights of the hearing
- Sr. Adv. Arvind Datar, counsel for Maharashtra, said the UGC Act is traced to Entry 66 of List 1. My submission is that UGC can lay down standards, but it can’t compel exams to be held.” However, SC nullified the argument by stating that UGC does not conduct examinations.
- Datar further argues if IIT — a central institute of international repute — can issue degrees without conducting final year examinations then why can’t other universities do the same.
- Datar argued that the most important thing today is the welfare of the student. The Supreme Court slammed his argument by saying, “students cannot decide their welfare, Authorities can decide their welfare.”
- Datar further argued, “UGC guidelines make uniform rules for the whole country without taking the pandemic and practical difficulties into consideration. This is violative of Article 14 as they are treating unequal situations equally.”
- Justice Bhushan goes back to the question of whether the final semester can be skipped while Datar is explaining the CGPA system in the court.
- If there is a standard fixed by UGC that without a final exam, a degree cannot be given, can universities really decide to cancel the final exam? Then all the universities will come up with their own method, SC said.
- Datar argued that UGC can say don't award a degree without holding an exam but it cannot say that you hold the exam by 30th September at any cost.
- Advocate General Kishore Dutta for West Bengal says the state will not be able to hold online exams because students don’t have the technology to give the exams.
- Sr. Adv. KV Vishwanathan, counsel for New Delhi argued that there is a divide between the classes of people with rich having access to technology and poor being at a disadvantage
On August 14, the Supreme Court decided to move the hearing to August 18. On the same day, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the lead counsel, said “There is a great disparity between the classes of students who are expected to appear. Many students have gone back to their hometowns.”
Previously, on August 10, the University Grants Commission (UGC) told the Supreme Court that degrees would not be recognised if no examinations are held for final-year students even as the country faces a coronavirus crisis.
The UGC response was conveyed by its counsel, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on a batch of pleas that challenged the UGC schedule for final-year university exams before September 30.The petitioners' counsel contended that the UGC guidelines for holding exams are "not legally or constitutionally valid".
Mehta argued that the decision by Delhi and Maharashtra to cancel exams in their respective state universities is against the UGC rules.He argued that UGC is the only body that can prescribe rules for conferring a degree, and state governments cannot change the rules.
The Supreme court granted time to the UGC to respond to the stand taken by the Maharashtra and Delhi governments to cancel university exams. The bench also asked the UGC to address the question of whether the Disaster Management Act would override its notification on guidelines for exams.
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