To conduct or not to conduct: Supreme Court on final year exams
The bench asked if the Disaster Management Act overrides the UGC's guidelines and sought a reply. The bench further posted the hearing for 14 August.
The Supreme Court on Monday heard pleas filed by students from Karnataka, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Meghalaya and other states challenging the University Grants Commission's circular dated 6th July. The circular directed universities to conduct final year examinations by 30th September. The students opposing the directions have asked that the marks should be calculated based on their internal assessment or past performance.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the University Grants Commission (UGC) in the Supreme Court on Monday, said that students must continue to prepare for the exams. He also added, “If exams aren't conducted, students can't get a degree. That's the law.”
The bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah asked if the Disaster Management Act overrides the UGC's guidelines and sought a reply. The bench further posted the hearing for 14th August.
Advocate representing the students in the court on Monday questioned the legality and constitutional validity of the July 6th guidelines and not the conduct of the exams itself.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar requested the court to allow him time to file consolidated replies to put on record the position of all states of the conduct of final year exams by the UGC. The court has allowed him.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought time to reply to the affidavits filed by the two states. The Solicitor General, while pointing out the affidavits filed by Delhi and Maharashtra stating exams will not be conducted in the states asked, "How can states cancel exams when UGC is empowered to confer degrees?"
The UGC had submitted in the previous hearing that it will not change its decision.
The commission stated in a 50 page affidavit that the decision to conduct the exams was taken 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."
In response to the decision taken by Delhi and Maharashtra to cancel the exams the commission stated that it will be considered as contradicting the guidelines and will be detrimental to the standards of higher education.
The affidavit also stated that no student will be forced to give the exams at the cost of their health. UGC has also allowed universities to hold special exams for those who are unable to take the exams held by September.
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