The Supreme Court has said that final year university exams will be conducted as per the rules of University Grants Commission (UGC). SC has also said that states cannot promote students without holding exams.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan pronounced the judgement on the student plea against UGC. This means that all final year university exams will have to be conducted.
However, the apex court said that of any state government or union territory cannot conduct exams by the September 30 UGC deadline, then they can individually approach the UGC to postpone it.
"State disaster management authority (SDMA) can postpone exams overriding UGC guidelines. However, SDMA cannot direct institutes to pass students based on previous performance," said the SC.
It added that states/UTs cannot pass students without exams as directed by UGC but have the right to approach the body seeking a postponement of the deadline.
SC said in its judgement that the July 6 guidelines mandating final year exams showed deep concern about the health of all stakeholders including students and exam functionaries. The apex court also added that is the statutory duty of all universities to adopt UGC guidelines.
SC explained that the UGC guidelines take into account the prevailing pandemic across the country.
Reacting to the SC judgement, education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said that he welcomes this decision.
"Let us keep politics away from education and make our politics more educated," said Nishank in a social media post.
On July 20, more than a dozen students had moved the apex court against this UGC decision. The petitioners want that the final year candidates be assessed based on the performance in the previous semesters.
On August 18, SC had reserved its order in the students' plea against the University Grants Commission's decision to make final-year exams compulsory. This plea is against UGC's July 7 decision asking institutes to conduct final year exams by September 30.
SC had asked all the parties to give a note on their submissions within the next three days. The hearing concluded on August 18.
State governments like those of Maharashtra, Odisha, Delhi and West Bengal had challenged the decision of the UGC to make it mandatory to conduct exams by September 30.
On June 26, the Maharashtra government had announced that there will be no final year examinations conducted for professional and non -professional courses in Maharashtra. The decision was taken in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, with Maharashtra reporting the highest number of cases.
However, UGC opposed this move saying that the state governments cannot decide to cancel examinations for final-year students. The body had also said that students cannot get their final degree without writing exams.
On July 7, UGC said the end-term examination for all final year UGC 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.Among other exams, several state governments and students want JEE Main 2020 and NEET 2020 that are scheduled for September 2020 to also be postponed. However, on August 17, the Supreme Court dismissed pleas to direct NTA to postpone JEE Main and NEET due to the coronavirus pandemic.