On Monday, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing of petitions challenging the guidelines of UGC till July 31. The guidelines of UGC had made it mandatory for all the universities to conduct the exams of the final year by September 30.
The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was directed by a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, BR Gavai, and R Subhash Reddy to file a reply for the UGC to the petition. This has to be done by July 29.
The petitioners can file their rejoinder to the reply by July 30.
Today, four petitions were listed in the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of the July 6 notification of the MHA and the subsequent guidelines issued by the UGC that mandated the conduct of final year exams by September 30.
31 students from Indian Universities, Yuva Sena leader Aditya Thackeray, Law student Yash Dubey, and one student Krushna Waghmare had filed these petitions.
Thackeray of Yuva Sena and petitioners like him had demanded the UGC to allow the respective state governments to pass the final year students based on the past performances of the candidates.
Dr. A M Singhvi, who is appearing for Dubey, had submitted that the guidelines of UGC were unworkable and harsh.
He submitted that many states like Maharashtra and West Bengal have strongly objected to the conduct of exams amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Appearing for UGC, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that 394 universities, out of the 818 in India are in the process of completing exams. 209 out of the 818 have already finished with exams. 35 universities have not yet reached the final year.
Appearing in the petition collectively filed by 31 students, Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, urged the top court to stay the guidelines. He highlighted that more than 50,000 cases of coronavirus were reported recently on a single day.
The cancellation of exams for final year students was the genesis of all the petitions.
They have submitted that forcing students to appear in the final year exams on September 30, 2020, is an outright violation of the Right to Life, enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution.
The UGC, on July 7, had said that it is mandatory to conduct the exams of final year students, in an offline or online mode, by the end of September.
Among the petitioners, a COVID positive student has pointed out that there are many students who are either themselves COVID positive or their family members.
The other grievances which were raised by the petitioners include:
1. The decision to conduct final year exams has been taken in a whimsical and arbitrary manner without the consultation of teachers, doctors, Colleges and Universities, etc. therefore, the entire decision is misplaced and erroneous.
2. The plight of lakhs of students of Assam, Bihar, and North-Eastern states, which are facing floods currently, have been ignored by the Respondents.
3. Only a selected number of trains are operating in a restricted movement of railways. In such a situation, any student who has to travel through public transport to reach his/her examination center will face immense difficulty.
4. Landlords are unwilling to give rented/PG accommodations nowadays because of the coronavirus outbreak.
5. Utmost financial distress is being faced by the parents of these students. In this case, further burdening them with the cost of accommodation, transportation, and medical treatment of their wards is unfair, unjust, and unwarranted.