All the universities and affiliated colleges across different states are muddled about holding university-level exams amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court has reserved its order on the plea opposing the University Grants Commission’s [UGC] guidelines to various universities or institutions to conduct final year exams by September 2020. On the other hand, the Center called the decision of the Government of Maharashtra to cancel exams a ‘somersault’.
Ashok Bhushan, the Justice of Supreme Court headed the bench. Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General at the apex court told the bench that, ‘I don’t wish to make this a Centre vs State issue…. Both are supreme in their own capacity under the Disaster Management Act.’ He further added, ‘Their (Maharashtra’s) own high-level committee recommended holding of exams…. (But) there was a somersault in this matter.’
Mehta said that the states can request the Center to defer the scheduled date for some reason. But, it is not permitted for the states to say that they will give degrees to the students sans conducting exams. The Solicitor General further highlighted that the final semester exams can’t be organized as different universities in Delhi had wrapped up their exams. On the other hand, several top universities have preferred online exams.
At the time of deciding on conducting final year examinations, the students’ interest was also considered. The students would be awaiting their degree either to go abroad or higher education. SG further said that UGC instructions are mandatory and have legal support. He told the apex court that he isn’t willing to take part in a debate whether the state or the Center has priority under the DM Act to cancel examinations. He said that a ‘disaster can be local or pan-India.’
The apex court Justice Bhushan asked whether the decision of the Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority [SDMA] to not to hold exams in the state can overthrow the directions of UGC. Mehta said that the UGC will operate under a unique statute. Mehta then asked, ‘This deadline was given in the interest of the students…. Students have to go for post-graduation..the country is opening up gradually. These students are 20-21-year-old students…. Can we really believe they are not stepping out.’
The Senior Advocate who took up the case on behalf of Maharashtra, Arvind Datar said that the vital aspect in the current situation is the well-being of the students. Datar said that the COVID-19 pandemic situation is not similar across different areas of the nation. But, the guidelines of UGC are the same for the whole nation without considering the current situation. The decision of UGC violates Article 14, said Datar. The court finally said that UGC must take all the necessary health-related guidelines for holding the exams. Get to know the latest educational updates on this website.