The Supreme Court has adjourned the hearing of pleas challenging UGC Guidelines on Final Year Exams 2020 until 18th August 2020.
The three-judge bench consisting of Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah was hearing the appeal for cancellation of the final year examinations while UGC has maintained that degrees cannot be awarded without examination.
The governments of Delhi and Maharashtra have filed an affidavit in the apex court that they will not be conducting examinations due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. UGC on August 13 filed its response to the Supreme Court, highlighting that the States cannot give orders to cancel the examinations. It had further reiterated that the examination must be conducted to ensure and maintain the standard of education in the country.
Counsels for the petitioners presented their case to the Supreme Court today. Dr. AM Singhvi opened the arguments and presented a case that stressed on the Right of Life. Contending for the safety of the students, Singhvi pointed out the disparity of the students, the concerns of intracity travel during pandemic.
On the validity of the Disaster Management Act, Singhvi added that the NDMA is applicable to every district. He also stated that the pandemic is a global concern and presents ‘special scenarios’ that have prohibited the right to travel, etc. In extension, he hinted on the possibility of cancellation of the examinations as well.
Shyam Divan, representing Yuva Sena argued on the Right to Life and also the MHA Guidelines which have given the states the right to enforce NDMA in stricter measure but not in a diluted form.
Divan further pointed out that UGC Guidelines themselves state that they are advisory in nature and that the universities are free to choose and opt for the actual course of action.
Divan argued that “Power of the authorities is not disputed but once the DM Act is invoked in a disaster condition and the right to life has been elevated, then the authorities cannot come in and exert power to dilute the provisions.”
It was also raised that when the cases were in few thousands the exams were postponed – now that the cases have risen to lakhs, the exams are being conducted. He also pointed out concerns over travel. He also stated that hostels had been converted to quarantine centres.