UGC questions Maharashtra & Delhi govt for not conducting final-year exams

The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Monday questioned before the Supreme Court the decisions taken by governments of Maharashtra and Delhi to cancel final-year examinations of state universities in view of COVID-19, saying they went against rules.

Not holding examinations will not be in students’ interest as their degrees may not be recognised if the states would act unilaterally and cancel final-year examinations in violation of UGC norms, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing UGC, told a Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan.

States couldn’t change the UGC rules which only the regular of higher education was empowered to prescribe for awarding degrees, Mehta said while opposing the decisions of Delhi and Maharashtra governments to cancel final-year examinations.

The top court had earlier already refused to stay the UGC’s decision.

As Mehta said UGC would like to respond to the affidavits filed by Delhi and Maharashtra, the Bench posted the petitions challenging the UGCs directive to conduct university examinations by September 30 for further hearing on August 14.

Petitioners contended the July 6 UGC guidelines for holding final-year examinations were illegal.

On the last date of hearing, the Solicitor General had made it clear that students should prepare themselves for the final-year examinations. 

“Nobody should be under the impression that they cannot prepare. Students should prepare for the exam,” Mehta had said.

Refusing to relent on the September 30 deadline for conducting final year of universities and colleges, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had earlier told the court that its decision was taken “after due deliberation by taking into account and balancing all relevant factors”.

In an affidavit filed in the court, UGC had said its circular was issued to “protect the academic future of students”, while keeping in mind their “health and safety”.

The affidavit has been filed in response to petitions challenging the UGC’s July 6 circular for allegedly being arbitrary as it mandated conducting examinations during the COVID19 pandemic.

The petitioners wanted the UGC to follow the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) which has decided to hold examinations at a later date for students not satisfied with their marks given on the basis of internal assessment.

However, the UGC said, “The nature of examinations conduct by CBSE, ICSE or ICAI…are very different from those that are the subject matter of the UGC Guidelines. In the present case, the UGC is concerned with final year/terminal semester examinations which will have a lasting and indelible effect on the academic credibility, career opportunities and future progress of the students.”

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