The Supreme Court on 18th August heard the appeal seeking UGC guidelines to conduct the exams of final year students before 30th September. The three-tier bench comprising of Justice MR Shah, R. Subhash Reddy, and Justice Ashok Bhusan in the last hearing questioned UGC that how can exams be conducted when students were not taught.
The Supreme Court in the hearing said that UGC can make it compulsory to conduct final year exams but cannot fix a deadline to conduct the exams. The SC has asked all the concerned parties to the case to file written submission in three days.
UGC Possess No Right in Decision On Conduct of Exams
As the hearing began, Arvind Datar (demanding cancellation of exams) read that UGC as per its wish can lay down the standards for conducting exams but it possesses no rights in regards to commencement of exams as per the jurisdiction of Constitution bench laid in Medical exams case.
Advocate Datar brought forward the reading from the decision taken in UGC and medical exams case where the constitution bench stated that UGC has no right over decisions of conduct of exams and can only issue guidelines or standards for conducting exams. However, the court claimed that it’s the Universities who will conduct exams and not the UGC.
Arvind Datar further asserted that the most important element is the welfare of the students. Justice Bhushan in reply to the statement said it’s the authorities who will decide their welfare and not the students. The court underlined the two aspects being put up. The first one is laying down of UGC’s standards and guidelines and the other one brought up by the states demanding the cancelation of exams.
Declaration of results without conducting Exams
The Court brought up that declaration of results of final year students without conducting exams does not fall under the disaster management act. Advocate Datar while stating the example of IIT said if most prominent central institutes like IIT can cancel exams then why can’t we?
Datar while referring to guidelines of UGC issued in 2003 which states that the students have to be assessed based on overall yearly performance. Datar elaborated that in India majority of the Universities follow the CBCS system according to which CGPA of the final year students have already been declared. These CGPA consists of results of the first five months of the final year of students. Tushar Mehta, therefore, raised a questioning asking whether the CBCS system is all and sundry. Datar claimed that not all the Universities in India follow the CBCS system but Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra do. Datar explained even if Universities follow semester, trimester, or annual they can still manage to calculate cumulative grading for the students.
Can Final Semester Exams be Skipped?
Arvind stated that students who have appeared for all five semesters have already completed 85% of their syllabus. He emphasized that the first five semesters be considered for calculating the cumulative results.
Justice Bhushan pointed out the direction of UGC stating that it can not provide degrees without conducting exams. Adv Arvind said that the concern is the correctness of guidelines issued by UGC. He differentiated that UGC’s one of the guidelines states mandatory conduct of exams while the other demands conduct of exams before 30 September. He added that his submission is that UGC should eliminate the condition of conducting exams before 30th September.
AG Odisha further added that it is next to impossible for the state to conduct exams amid pandemic. While Sr. Advocate Jaideep Gupta (representing teachers association) said that various Universities are off-campus Universities where students will need to travel to different Universities for appearing for their exams. He brought forward the issues caused by cyclone Amphan which has destroyed the transport facilities.
Senior Advocate Navare concludes that UGC can mandate the exams but the deadline for conducting exams can be left with the Universities. While Tushar Mehta added that the final year of college is termed as degree year and the final year exams can not be eliminated. Mehta added that guidelines are subjected to be mandatory and are to be followed.
Maharashtra State Disaster Management Act can Override UGC guidelines
Justice Bhushan questions whether the disaster management act imposed by the state of Maharashtra can override UGC guidelines. SG Mehta while answering to the raised question claims that Maharashtra can not override UGC guidelines. Judge Bhushan further asserted that UGC can say that no degrees will be awarded without exams but UGC cannot mandate commencement of exams against the recommendation of SDMA.
The court has granted three days to all the parties concerned with the case to file their written submissions.