Published: 28th July 2020
Meet the Bhopal law student who challenged the UGC guidelines on conducting exams in the Supreme Court
A final year law student, Yash Dubey's petition, along with three other petitions were heard by the Supreme Court on July 27 and is the hope of millions of students across India
Amid the steady spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in India, the University Grants Commission has asked the universities in the country to wrap up their examinations by September 30. The decision was subject to a lot of criticism by teachers, students and activists across the country. A few weeks after this, the Supreme Court, on Monday, heard four different pleas challenging these guidelines. Along with Maharashtra Minister Aditya Thackeray and other students, one of the petitioners is Yash Dubey, a 21-year-old law student at Barkatullah University, Bhopal.
Yash says that he barely sleeps these days and that his evenings are spent working on the petition. At the same time, he adds that his prior experience of interning at the Supreme Court is helping him to some extent. "After the UGC released its set of guidelines on July 7, I was discussing this with my father and sister, who are also lawyers. If my university conducts the exam, I will have to travel to the exam centre five times. I have five papers to write," says Yash. Now, this may increase his chances of contracting the virus — or worse — be a carrier. "Honestly, I am not worried about my health. I'm young and healthy. But I live with my parents and my father is a senior citizen. I don't want to put him at risk," says Yash.
This leaves the universities with the option of conducting exams online. But this has a flip side too. Yash explains. "The concept of online exams seem quite problematic," he says, touching upon the issue of the digital divide. "We recently read about a father who sold his only cow to fund his children's online education. Students choose to study at government universities because they can't pay high fees in private ones. A lot of them can't afford laptops, printers or cellphones. How do you expect these students to appear for online examinations?" he asks, adding that it is an option that only favours the rich.
He suggests that universities can promote their students based on their previous marks. "In a situation like this, you can neither go for online exams nor offline. It is a pandemic. They can go for something similar to what the CBSE did with the board exam results this year," he says. Yash is represented by AOR Raj Kamal and senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Dhruv Mehta in the Supreme Court.