Published: 18th August 2020
Of students stepping out and who aren't competent enough to make decisions: Arguments that drew flak during the SC hearing on UGC
The Supreme Court of India was hearing four different pleas challenging the UGC's decision to conduct examinations amid the COVID pandemic
The University Grants Commission in its guidelines released on July 6 said that terminal semester(s)/ final year(s) examinations be conducted by the universities/ institutions by the end of September 2020 in offline/ online or blended mode. The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard four different petitions challenging this.
However, while presenting his arguments for the UGC, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta lost his connection for around 5 minutes. Senior Advocate K V Vishwanathan who was representing Delhi then said, "imagine the plight of students." He had previously argued that "poor, downtrodden and those without access to technology will be "hard hit" by the UGC direction to hold final exams." Mehta had previously argued in favour of Delhi University's decision to hold online examinations,
In his closing argument, Mehta also said, “The students are 21-22-year-olds. Can you really believe that they will not be going out?” This drew a lot of flak from students. Students through tweets told us that they step out only when it's necessary. "The SG should not generalise. There might be some who step out, but not all. Even if there is one student who has not stepped out of their house during the pandemic, they deserve justice," tweeted a student.
In the beginning, while senior advocate Arvind Datar presented his arguments on students' welfare, Justice Ashok Bhushan said that the students cannot decide on their welfare. “Only the authorities can decide what is in their welfare. Students are not competent enough to decide.”
The Supreme Court has now asked all the counsels to file written submissions or rejoinders in the UGC matter within the next three days — by August 21. The apex court has reserved its judgments. It was hearing four pleas challenging the UGC guidelines which aked the universities to conduct the final semester examinations before September 30.