Supreme Court Backs UGC Decision For Conducting Exams

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the lives of many people around the world. It has affected the everyday life of several people. Final year students of the universities are the most affected lot. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in February in India, their final exams were at hold. The final exams are the exams that determine the future of the students. The University Grants Commission (UGC)  issued revised guidelines on 6th July 2020 to hold university exams by 30th September 2020 following the Standard Operating Procedure.

Many states and students opposed the UGC Guidelines to hold exams due to the pandemic situation. Many Writ Petitions by different parties were filed before the Supreme Court for deciding the matter. The Supreme Court consolidated all the Writ Petitions and decided on it by dismissing them and backing UGC Guidelines to hold the exams.

The judgement covers and addresses all the points put forward by the states relating to conducting the exams. It states that UGC is the authority to issue guidelines for the determination and maintenance of standards of education and teaching of the Universities. Thus, Universities must follow the UGC guidelines. 

The guidelines given by UGC is with the object that all the Universities follow a uniform academic calendar. These guidelines are not advisory. They have been issued in exercise of statutory powers, and thus it is the statutory duty of the Universities to adopt and follow these guidelines.

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Since the guidelines prescribe the date of 30th September for all universities, issuing of these guidelines is irrespective of conditions prevailing in the individual states, and there is no inequality. The date for completion of the exam is the same throughout the country, and it maintains uniformity in the academic year.

Regarding the safety, the Supreme Court held that the Standard Operating Procedures in the letter dated 08.07.2020 by the UGC and Official Memorandum of 06.07.2020 by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) takes care of the health of the students as well as the exam functionaries while conducting the exams. 

The Supreme Court further held that there could be no promotion of final year students without conducting final exams. The State Governments cannot override the UGC Guidelines by cancelling exams. The UGC Guidelines is final, and any decision contrary to the guidelines taken by the State Disaster Management Authority or the State Government exercising their powers under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 is not valid. The State Disaster Management Authority and the State Governments cannot decide to promote final year students based on earlier years assessment and internal assessment.

However, the judgement provides that if any State Government has decided under the Disaster Management Act that it is not possible to conduct final year exam by 30th September, they can apply to UGC for extending the deadline of 30th September. The UGC shall consider this and inform the rescheduled date for conducting the exam. 

The Supreme Court judgement has clarified all the points addressed by the students and the State Governments. The states should conduct the final year exams by the deadline given in the UGC guidelines. The last year students are now sure of the exams taking place and should now start preparing for it. Now, it is the task of the states and universities to conduct the exams by fixing the exam dates.

For any clarifications/feedback on the topic, please contact the writer at mayashree.acharya@cleartax.in

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