Supreme Court reserves order on plea challenging UGC decision to hold final year exams
Before reserving orders, the bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah heard the petitioners. The bench heard Delhi, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Odisha before reserving orders.Updated: Aug 18, 2020, 14:31 IST
The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its order on a bunch of petitions seeking cancellation of final year examinations prescribed by UGC. The Court gave three days time to all parties to give written submissions of their arguments.
Before reserving orders, the bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah heard the petitioners. The bench heard Delhi, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Odisha before reserving orders.
The state of Maharashtra and UT of Delhi have cancelled the exams while Odisha, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Punjab have conveyed their inability to hold exams to UGC.
UGC represented by SG Tushar Mehta submitted at the end.
During the hearing, the Court remarked “Under guise of NDMA state authorities cannot take decision with regard to standards of education. You can contend and argue that it is not possible or feasible to hold exams now. But to pass students based on earlier exams performance cannot be under your domain.”
Court further stated if it was possible for Universities to dilute standards fixed by UGC. “If that is permitted, every University will have a different system of passing students. You cannot dilute the standards.”
For UGC, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that this is not a battle between Centre and state. He further pointed out that all public health precautions were taken before ordering for exams.
The top court was hearing a plea filed by students against the UGC’s July 6 order to conduct final year exams by September 30. The UGC had by its July 6 order directed all 900 Universities across the country to conduct final year exams by September 30 either through online, offline or blended mode of the above two.
Earlier on Friday, August 14, the same SC bench had adjourned the matter for August 18. Arguing for petitioners, Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that prior notifications of UGC issued in April 15, May 1 and June 29 realized the pandemic situation and gave flexibility to universities to either conduct or not conduct exams. Now when pandemic is at its peak, how can UGC decide to hold mandatory exams when teaching has not been held.
Last week, the union home ministry had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that it has given relaxations to colleges and universities across the country and allowed them to open for conducting final-year examinations, in accordance with an order issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
On Monday, SC dismissed a plea filed by students to postpone the JEE Mains and NEET exams, due to the Covid- 19 situation.