Students should prepare for final year university exams: UGC to SC

Students should continue with their preparation for the final year university examinations scheduled to be held by the end of September 30 and should not harbour any misconception that the Supreme Court will stay the exams, the University Grants Commission (UGC) told the top court on Friday.

The UGC was defending its July 6 directive asking universities across the country to hold final year/ terminal semester examinations by the end of September.

“My request is that nobody should remain under the impression the final exams will be stayed because the Supreme Court is hearing the case. Students should continue to prepare for the exams,” solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for UGC, said.

The Supreme Court was hearing a batch of petitions by several students and organizations challenging the guidelines issue by UGC on July 6 to hold final year examinations by September 30. A COVID-19 positive student was one of the petitioners raising the demand for the exams to be cancelled in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shiv Sena’s youth wing Yuva Sena was also a petitioner before the Court.

The petitioners have demanded the apex court to consider scrapping online/offline test and instead direct UGC to declare results by July 31 based on their past performance or internal assessment.

During the hearing of the case on Friday, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the petitioners, said that the states of Maharashtra and Delhi have decided to cancel final year exams in view of the Covid-19 situation.

The UGC too had highlighted this fact in its affidavit filed before the top court on Thursday stating that the decision by the two states was contrary to the UGC guidelines.

The bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan asked Maharashtra and Delhi to submit their response to the same.

“Counsel for the state of Maharashtra submits that the decision of the State Disaster Management Committee dated June 19, 2020 (to cancel the final year exam) though referred in the counter affidavit has not yet been brought on record. Let the decision of the State Disaster Management Committee be brought on record. Counsel for the NCT of Delhi may also file affidavit. Affidavits (should) be filed on or before August 7, 2020,” the bench which also comprised justices R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah said.

The case will be taken up for hearing next on August 10.

The UGC’s affidavit said that exams have been scheduled before September to ensure that the academic future of students are not compromised and the decision was taken keeping in mind the health and safety of students.

“All universities/ institutions in the country are obligated to conduct terminal semester/ final year examination by the end of September 2020. The UGC took the decision to protect the academic future of students across the country while also keeping in mind their health and safety”, the affidavit stated.

It was also submitted that the guidelines were issued based on the recommendations by an expert committee headed by Chairperson of Central University of Haryana, RC Kuhad.

Tushar Mehta pointed out that out of 945 universities, 209 have already held the final year examinations while another 394 universities are in the process of conducting examinations during August-September.

“It (UGC guidelines) give sufficient flexibility to universities to conduct exams online offline or blended (online and offline) mode and provide for examination through special chance for students who are unable to appear for the examinations by September 2020. Concerns of the petitioners have been more than adequately addressed by UGC,” UGC’s affidavit said.

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