UGC right to make exams compulsory but states can postpone schedule: SC
However, states can approach the UGC if they wish to postpone holding the examinations beyond the September 30 deadline, a 3-judge bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan ruled.
The Supreme Court ruled on Friday students cannot be promoted without writing the final year or terminal semester examinations, upholding a July 6 directive of the University Grants Commission (UG).
However, states will have the liberty to defer such exams beyond the September 30 deadline in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the three-judge bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan said.
“States cannot promote students based on internal assessment or past performance. If states want to hold exams after September 30, they can approach UGC for the same,” the bench said.
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Yuva Sena, the youth wing of the Shiv Sena, is among several petitioners in the top court who questioned UGC’s directive to hold examinations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The bench had reserved its verdict on the issue on August 18.
UGC had earlier told the top court that its July 6 directive, asking universities and colleges to conduct final year exams by September 30 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, is “not a diktat” but states cannot take the decision to confer degrees without holding the exams.
The “benefit of students” as the universities have to start admissions to postgraduate courses and state authorities cannot override the UGC’s guideline, it had added.
On August 10, UGC had questioned the decisions of Delhi and Maharashtra governments to cancel final year exams of state universities amid the Covid-19 pandemic, saying they were against the rules. The Solicitor General had earlier 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.
UGC had said that in June this year, considering the evolving situation of the pandemic, it requested an expert committee to revisit the guidelines in which it had asked the universities to hold final year examinations in July 2020.
The committee submitted a report recommending that terminal semester and final year examinations should be conducted by universities by the end of September, 2020 in offline or pen and paper or online or offline mode, UGC had said.
UGC had said, while assailing the decisions of some states like Maharashtra and Delhi of cancelling the final year exams, that such decisions directly affect the standards of higher education. It will be an encroachment on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education that is exclusively reserved for Parliament under Schedule VII of the Constitution, it had said.
(With agency inputs)