The Supreme Court has been hearing a plea by students against UGC decision to make final year exams mandatory
The Supreme Court (SC) will next hear the plea against making the UGC final year exams mandatory on August 18. Students have been opposing UGC decision to make exams mandatory for final year students even as cases of coronavirus are on the rise.
On August 13, UGC in its reply to the affidavits filed by the Delhi and Maharashtra governments said the cancellation of final year exams is not in students' interests and that this would 'irreparably' damage the future of these students.
Further, the ministry of home affairs also said in its affidavit that exams were permitted for final year students taking into account the academic interests of these candidates.
The governments of Delhi and Maharashtra had filed an affidavit in the apex court that they will not be conducting examinations due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi who is appearing for a law student in this matter told SC in the hearing that this is a matter of life and health. He added that states like Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Odisha have decided to not conduct exams.
Shyam Divan who is appearing for Yuva Sena said the earlier guidelines by UGC had sensitivity and flexibility. He added that this cannot be made mandatory especially where in Maharashtra some colleges have become quarantine facilities.
"You cannot say that the lives of a third-year student are less than that of a first-year or second-year student," said Divan. He also added that students who don't have access to technology may suffer if exams are made mandatory.
Divan questioned that when exams could not be permitted to be held when the confirmed cases in India were in thousands in April, then how can they be allowed to be held now with cases being in lakhs.
On July 31, SC had adjourned the matter pertaining to the plea against the University Grants Commission (UGC) decision on mandatorily conducting final year examinations till August 10.
On July 7, UGC said the end-term examination for all final-year students would have to be mandatorily held by the end of September 2020 in offline (pen & paper), online or blended mode. This was opposed by several state governments like that of Maharashtra, West Bengal as also by final-year university students.
SG Tushar Mehta said in the July 27 hearing that out of 818 universities in India, 209 have already completed the examinations while 394 are in the process of completing the examinations. He added that 35 universities have not reached final year exams.
On July 30, UGC had informed the SC that if students are unable to appear for the examinations by September 30, he/she will be given an opportunity to appear at a specially conducted exam at a later date.However, the 31 lead petitioners in the SC case refused to accept this reply and said that the UGC's response does not take into consideration the hassles faced by students if exams keep getting postponed. The petitioners had also said job prospects and future admission opportunities for students will be hampered.