Published: 18th August 2020
UGC exam case: Delhi, Maharashtra, Bengal. Odisha oppose 'impractical' exams, SC asks for written rejoinders by August 21
The Supreme Court of India was hearing four different pleas challenging the UGC's decision to conduct examinations amid pandemic
The Supreme Court has 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.
The matter was heard by a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah via video conferencing. Senior advocate Ashok Datta who appeared on behalf of the State of Maharashtra argued that if IITs can evaluate students without examinations, universities should also be allowed to do the same. He added that all states in the country follow a semester system and a final year student can be easily assessed on the basis of their performance on the past semesters. "Job interviews also take place in the last semester. Here is a student who has completed 87.5% of the course," he said.
He also said that the UGC's decision is violative of its powers. "We are also worried about the students. We too want the exams to be held at the earliest. We are worried about their future, but it can’t be done in this manner," he added. He also noted that the UGC committee that drafted the guidelines did not consult the states or other authorities.
Lawyers who represented Odisha, West Bengal and Delhi too argued on similar grounds. They also added that it is impossible and risky for students to travel to exam centres and have no access to study materials or technology to appear for online examinations. The COVID tally in India has crossed 2.7 million now.
Senior Advocate PS Narasimha, on the other hand, argued that exams are important in assessing the capability of a student, even for the purpose of higher education. "Further, life must go on. The government is functioning, courts are functioning. We must be resilient in this matter. In this context, UGC has given the COVID guidelines," he said. Senior Advocate Vinay Navare who noted that the UGC completely has the power to mandate the conduction of exams, added that the universities can decide the deadline.
Representing the UGC, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the UGC’s directions are meant to ensure that the degrees of the students are provided to them at the lastest. It is for their interest only. He asked, "The students are 21 and 22-year-olds. Can you really believe that they will not be going out?" He added that the universities can seek for the deadline to be pushed, however, they cannot take the decision to confer degrees without holding exams.