The UGC has told the Supreme Court that final examination is a “crucial step” in the academic career of a student and the state government cannot say that its July 6 directive, asking universities and colleges to conduct final year examinations by September 30 amid the COVID19 pandemic, was “not binding”.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) said the July 6 guidelines are based on the recommendations of experts and have been made after due deliberation and it is wrong to claim that it will not be possible to conduct the final examinations in terms of the guidelines.
“That apart, the state govt (Maharashtra) avers that the next academic session must begin in the interest of students, while, at the same time, contending that the final examinations should be cancelled and degrees can be awarded without such examinations even though such a step would irreparably damage the future of students. Such contentions by the state govt are clearly therefore meritless,” the UGC said in its reply to the affidavit filed by Maharashtra earlier.
UGC has said that it has taken the policy decision to conduct final year or terminal semester examinations in the interest of students across the country after duly considering the prevailing situation of a pandemic.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had on August 10 told the apex court that states cannot change the rules of the commission as only the UGC is empowered to prescribe rules for conferring degree.
Mehta had argued that not conducting exams will not be in the interest of students and degrees may not be recognized if the states would act unilaterally. Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, appearing for some of the petitioners, had claimed that the July 6 guideline for holding exams are neither legal or constitutionally valid.
The solicitor general had informed the bench that out of over 800 universities in the country, 209 have completed the examinations while around 390 universities are in the process of conducting exams.
The UGC had earlier filed an affidavit in the apex court and justified its decision directing all universities and institutions to hold final year/semester examinations in September saying it was done to protect the academic future of students across the country.
The UGC had said that in June this year, considering the evolving situation of the COVID19 pandemic, it requested the expert committee to revisit the April 29 guidelines, by which it had asked the universities and institutions to hold final year examinations in July 2020. The expert committee submitted a report recommending that terminal semester/final year examinations should be conducted by universities/ institutions by the end of September, 2020 in offline (pen & paper)/ online/ blended (online + offline) mode, the UGC had said.