The Supreme Court of India has adjourned hearings in the University Grants Commission (UGC) final-year exam matter until 18 August. The pleas challenged the UGC’s exam-related guidelines issued on 6 July that made final-year or final-semester University exams compulsory despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-one final year students from across the country filed Public Interest Litigation (PIL) case against the guidelines. Yuva Sena and the Shiv Sena’s youth wing also challenged the guidelines.
Earlier, on 6 July, the UGC issued exam-related guidelines asking universities to complete the final year, final semester examinations by September end in offline, online, or blended mode. Following the 6 July UGC order, students and parents raised their concerns on various social media platforms and also urged the central government and the UGC to cancel the examination. Later, a couple of PILs were filed in the Supreme Court demanding cancellation of the tests. These included one by a group of thirty-one students from different parts of the country who requested that they shall be evaluated based on their past performance and internal assessments, as examinations will pose a severe health risk.
During its hearing on 10 August, the court postponed the matter to 14 August, and asked the UGC and the solicitor general, Tushar Mehta, to file their replies within three days. In its affidavit, the Ministry of Home Affairs reportedly stated that universities could conduct final year examinations in August and September, as per the UGC guidelines.
Supreme Court UGC Hearing:
Bar & Bench reported that Abhishek Manu Singhvi, lead counsel, in the case argued: “The UGC guidelines now is a ‘one size fits all’ method and does not consider the issues of transport and accessibility.” Singhvi further added that nobody is against the exams in regular times. “We are against the exams in pandemic time,” he argued. Singhvi also argued that the guidelines violate Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law, said the report.
While arguing against the UGC guidelines, Senior counsel Shyam Divan said that the UGC guidelines stated that they are advisory and that universities are free to chart out their plans accordingly. According to Bar & Bench, he said: “The students are a homogenous group, and this group cannot be severed artificially by treating first-year students differently from final year students.”