The apex court on July 31, adjourned the hearing of the pleas seeking a stay on the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) guidelines that directed universities to conduct final-year examinations by 30 September, till 10 August.
The supreme court bench comprising of Justice R Subhash Reddy, Justice MR Shah and headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, asked the home ministry to clarify its stand on the UGC’s 6 July guidelines and the challenges filed by petitioners and also ordered all parties to file their affidavits by 7 August and rejoinders a day after that. Once all the documents are on record, the court will hear the case on 10 August.
“Let nobody be under the impression that because the court is hearing, everything is stayed. Students should continue to prepare,” said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta representing UGC.
On 27th July, SC sought a response from UGC on a batch of petitions seeking cancellation of final-year examinations amid the COVID-19 crisis. In its response, UGC held that the guidelines published on 6th July to conduct exams should not be altered. In an affidavit submitted by UGC, it stated that exams are necessary for the academic future of the students and to evaluate the students on “specialized elective courses” they took in the final year. The universities have been given sufficient time to conduct the exams and they have also been given enough flexibility on online and offline models, UGC added.
Students from 13 states and one Union Territory in all have pleaded that the examinations should be cancelled and the results should be calculated on the basis of internal assessment.
A rejoinder to UGC’s reply filed by the petitioners through advocate Alakh Alok stated that the UGC had not taken into consideration the devastating floods in Assam, Bihar, and north-east states, which has left the region in shambles. It is therefore impossible to conduct online or offline examinations in these places. The students who have tested positive for COVID have also challenged the UGC’s stand and urged the court to shelve the examinations.