The Senior Advocate Shyam Divan stated in the Supreme Court that all the UGC guidelines are advisory in nature. He presented this before the Supreme Court while the petition was heard regarding the cancellation of UGC guidelines to hold final year exams.
Shyam Divan highlighted the fact that the cases of COVID-19 are rising in various states such as Maharashtra. The government has made several colleges and schools quarantine centers in many states.
However, Shyam Divan submitted his views to a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and M R Shah. He stated that the University and colleges need to think about the local situations before conducting any exams.
On July 29, the Ministry of Home Affairs released the latest guidelines to ‘unlock’ the lockdown. The Ministry has not permitted any activities related to the opening of schools, colleges, and coaching institutions.
The MHA restricts states/union territories from reducing restrictions but has permitted them to increase additional restrictions. As such, how could the UGC issue instructions for conducting the examination, asked Divan.
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UGC cannot supersede the Disaster Management Authority
Divan presented that the UGC rules are subordinate to the bearings gave by the Disaster Management Authority. Moreover, Maharashtra has given a course to drop final year exams. Due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases the Maharashtra government has taken this step. the UGC has stood firm that SDMA can’t meddle with the lead of examinations.
He pointed out that only the directions of the DMA take precedence, in a situation of a disaster, and no other authority can reduce the same.
Divan highlighted that once you have a pandemic going on where you’ve heightened the right to life, you cannot have a council coming in and saying that they will reduce the restraints.
He further added that the exams were postponed or canceled when there were only 1137 confirmed cases on 29 April. Now when there are lakhs if cases then how can anyone have exams? The risk is increasing day by day.
Why do only Final year students need to give exams?
Divan submitted in regards to final year students. His reference was regarding the UGC freeing all students other than final year students from the regulation of taking exams. According to UGC order, intermediate students are promoted based on past performance. Final years students will give exams.
Divan said there cannot be discrimination based on the year in which they are in. All students form a homogeneous class if we talk about the risk of COVID-19.
He also highlighted that there are several containment zones across the country. They can’t risk the lives of thousands of students and urged the bench to look at the anxiety.