Recently, the Delhi government canceled the final year exams in defiance of University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines. The Centre and the regulatory agency, both repeated that the guidelines were lawfully binding on the States and must be obeyed.
Higher Education Secretary Amit Khare stated in an interview that the State governments cannot take this decision regarding the final year exams, as per the UGC Act. School education comes under the State list, whereas higher education comes under the concurrent list.
AICTE [All India Council for Technical Education] and UGC fiats have to be carried out. It is mentioned in the Act. The States doing this is unacceptable. UGC has the superiority to take action against this. Firstly, they will try to get States on board.
The UGC on Monday had proposed that final year exams must be conducted in online or offline mode by September-end. The Commission claimed that it would inform states which had already canceled final year exams to acknowledge the new directions.
However, with the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi calling for the cancellation of final year exams, it is becoming a political battle promptly. Various non-BJP sanctioned states, such as Punjab, Maharashtra, Odisha, and West Bengal have jotted down to the Centre asserting that they did not wish to conduct the examinations. Citing the fear of COVID-19 cases spreading, on Monday, Delhi joined them as the first State to cancel final year exams after the UGC issued the guidelines.
The UGC general secretary Rajnish Jain said that they are binding in nature, as per their guidelines. The original guidelines that were issued in April had flexibility, but usually, guidelines are binding in nature.
So far, a representation from Punjab has only been received from the UGC. They have answered back asking to reconsider as the guidelines must be followed by the States mandatorily.
The Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, on Thursday, accused the UGC of creating confusion. He asked for the students to be promoted on their past performances. He joined the #SpeakUpForStudents online campaign being ushered by the Congress’ student wing, National Students Union of India (NSUI).
As per the NSUI in-charge of Ruchi Gupta, the UGC had neglected legal norms by not consulting with States before declaring openly the guidelines. UGC must hold consultations before making decisions, as under the UGC Act. No such consultations were held with State universities in non-BJP ruled states at least.
Questions were also raised by Ms. Gupta, regarding the panel led by UGC member R.C. Kuhad. He was asked to make suggestions on the issue. What was in the Kuhad Committee report and why was it not made public?
The Centre is closely monitoring the proceedings in the ongoing Delhi High Court case on Delhi University’s final year exams, as revealed by HRD Secretary Khare. The next hearing is on 14th July.