SC verdict on UGC, Final Year Exams 2020: Top 5 developments on the hearing

Topics Coronavirus | UGC | Lockdown

Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court today resumed hearing the arguments on a batch of pleas challenging the July 6 circular of the University Grants Commission (UGC) mandating to conduct the final term exams by the end of September. So far, there has been no decision on the final year examinations. Himachal Pradesh HC has allowed a stay in the final year examinations, pending the SC decision on the matter. In another case, SC yesterday rejected the plea to postpone the JEE Main and NEET 2020 entrance examinations, citing that the careers of the students cannot be played with. The hearing is expected to be taken up in the first half.

Here are top developments on the SC hearing

* Final Year Exams 2020: Himachal Pradesh HC puts stay on UGC exams

Himachal Pradesh High Court has put a stay order on UGC exams until the orders of the Supreme Court of India is pronounced in the matter. The Himachal Pradesh University Final Year Exams have also been postponed, which were to begin today.

 * Arvind Datar, senior counsel for Maharashtra, raises the point of lack to access for all students to online education.

Datar: The recommendations of the expert committee itself stated that if the severity of the situation does not abate, the students could be evaluated on internal marks. 

"If a central institute of international repute like IIT can issue degrees without conducting the final exams, why can't we", said Datar.

* Students are facing difficulties in giving exams: Senior advocate representing Delhi

Delhi tells SC that out of 8 state universities six have completed exams. But students are faced with handicaps for offline or online exams. Senior advocate KV Vishwanathan representing Delhi.

* AG of West Bengal: UGC didn’t consult any medical experts to understand the realities before issuing guidelines

Kishore Dutta, Advocate General of West Bengal tells the Supreme Court that state is duty bound by its constitutional duty to protect health of citizens. This concern is not addressed by UGC. UGC did not consult any health or medical experts to understand the practical ground realities before issuing July 6 order.

Moreover, South Bengal districts are affected by cyclone Amphan. It's not possible to hold physical exams as several children were evacuated. On holding online exams, both state and students lack digital infrastructure, the advocate said.

* Odisha: Not possible to hold exams due to coronavirus

Odisha tells SC that it is not possible to hold exams due to Covid situation. It stated that examination is culmination of 6 semesters and students are being marked based on performance of five semesters.

Now, coronavirus cases have peaked in Odisha. More than 200,000 students are in final year. Most students have returned back home. Several students are in rural areas where connectivity and availability of laptops and computer is a challenge and hence online exams cannot be conducted.

Public health is the issue, state has power to direct cancellation of exams: Advocate

Students cannot access libraries, textbooks, tuition. Nobody wants to venture out as elderly people at home are vulnerable. Even for online exams students suffer from connectivity problems. So public health is directly in issue and state has power to direct cancellation of exams, the advocate representing Delhi said.

No rational difference final year and other year students: Advocate

There is no rational difference between final year and other year students. Other year students are being assessed on internal assessment while final year students’ life put to risk by asking them to either take online or offline test, the advocate said.

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