Plea against UGC at the Supreme Court What is the matter all about

The Supreme Court (SC) will on July 27 at 10:30 am hear a plea by Yuva Seva and others against the University Grants Commission (UGC) decision on final year university examinations amidst the Coronavirus outbreak.

Shiv Sena’s youth wing Yuva Sena had on July 18 filed a writ petition in the SC against the UGC decision to conduct final year examinations by the end of September.

It is not just Yuva Sena which has filed a petition but also several other individual petitioners who have moved the SC to seek relief against the mandatory holding of examinations for final year students. UGC is the apex body that takes all examination-related decisions for university students.

Why is the UGC decision being opposed?

In its statement, Yuva Sena said that the central government was ignoring the “physical and mental health and anxieties and safety of students” in conducting the examinations even as India remains the third worst-hit nation.

The organisation stated that there is a risk of transmission of COVID-19 since both the students and the exam invigilators will have to travel, and called for students to be promoted on the basis of aggregate of marks scored in this academic year.

Individual petitioners have also expressed concerns about examination centres being a potential safety hazard for students especially at a time when India has crossed 1 million positive COVID-19 cases.

Further, the proposal by UGC to either hold the exams online or offline or blended has not gone down well with students and institutions. Questions have been raised about how examinations will be held online in locations with poor internet connectivity and who would be responsible to provide laptop/computer to students who don’t have access to such devices.

Read also: UGC to extend deadline for research submissions by six months

What was UGC’s decision?

On July 7, UGC said that the end-term examination for all final-year students would have to be mandatorily held by the end of September 2020 in offline (pen & paper), online or blended mode.

Under a new UGC directive, in case a student is not able to appear for examinations, he/she would be given an opportunity to appear for a special examination by the institution at a later date.

Then, on many occasions, the UGC sounded a warning note — that not accepting its decision would put the future of students at risk. The body also said that its decision would be binding on all universities.

In fact, UGC had said on July 15 that 640 universities have shared their status on the examinations so far. Of these, 454 have said that they will either be conducting them or have already held them while 177 have said that they are yet to take a decision.

What do the petitioners want?

Prior to the UGC’s decision, state governments like that of Maharashtra had cancelled examinations for final year university students citing the Disaster Management Act.

On June 26, Maharashtra state government had allowed universities to pass final-year students based on the performance in past semesters and internal assessments. State chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had said that this decision had the backing of the vice chancellors of universities across Maharashtra.

The petitioners like Yuva Sena want the UGC to allow individual state governments to pass the final year students based on the candidate’s past performance and not insist on mandatorily holding examinations amidst the health crisis.

There is also a justification given by petitioners that when board examinations and first year/second year university examinations could be cancelled, then why not that for the final year students.

Moneycontrol had reported earlier how the uncertainty about conducting the examinations is affecting students.

SC will hear the plea and is expected to give its final decision on the matter. UGC’s decision to hold examinations has been taken after consultation with the ministry of human resource development which has approved this.

Courtesy: Moneycontrol

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