UGC decision on final exams not binding on Maharashtra universities: Government

The term “other bodies concerned” is not defined under the UGC Act but under the current Covid-19 situation, the term will definitely include the disaster management authority or the state government, Mane pointed out, adding that UGC has not consulted either of them or the universities before issuing exam guidelines.
(HT File)
(HT File)
Published on Jul 16, 2020 12:17 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByKanchan Chaudhari, Mumbai

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday took a stand before the Bombay high court (HC), stating that the guidelines issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on July 6, instructing universities to hold final-semester examinations by September-end, were not binding on the state or universities in Maharashtra.

Under section 12 of the UGC Act, 1956, the commission is bound to consult “universities or other bodies concerned” before taking any steps or decisions for promotion of university education and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination, and research in universities, said the affidavit filed by Dr Dhanaraj Mane, director of higher education, Maharashtra.

The term “other bodies concerned” is not defined under the UGC Act but under the current Covid-19 situation, the term will definitely include the disaster management authority or the state government, Mane pointed out, adding that UGC has not consulted either of them or the universities before issuing exam guidelines.

“ UGC has not at all consulted the state government while deciding to hold the examinations, and therefore, the decision is ‘void ab-initio’ and not binding on the universities or the state government,” the affidavit adds.

The affidavit was filed in reply to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Dhananjay Kulkarni, challenging a government resolution (GR) issued by the higher education department on June 19 to not permit holding of final-semester examinations of professional as well as non-professional courses in Maharashtra.

The affidavit states that it was a conscious decision taken in a meeting before the disaster management authority, in the backdrop of the unprecedented situation created by Covid-19 pandemic.

Adding that holding final-semester examinations in the current scenario will be highly dangerous for all stakeholders, the affidavit states that after the introduction of the semester pattern, the importance of final examinations has been reduced, as compared to the annual examinations which used to be held earlier.

“The semester system has brought about a sea change, in not only the manner in which educational courses are conducted, but also the manner in which the performance of every student is evaluated and assessed,” states the affidavit, adding, “Now, the final-semester examination is like any other semester examination, and does not carry the decisive value which a final-year examination used to carry in the erstwhile education system.”

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