So, it will be life or limb for a degree.
On the lines of its judgment on NEET and JEE entrance exams, the Supreme Court on Friday upheld the UGC guidelines to universities to hold the final year exams by September 30, rejecting the writ petitions from across the country to pass the students without exams.
The 3-judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan has also endorsed the UGC stand that if there are no exams, there will be no promotions and no degrees.
It, however, has given discretion to states, which are unable to hold exams, to approach the UGC for postponement, whose decision in the matter shall be final. It has thus left scope for the exams to be held beyond the deadline of September 30, giving latitude to the UGC to extend the deadline.
The Bench also ruled that no state government can promote students, saying "the decision of the state to promote students is beyond its jurisdiction and has to give way to the UGC." This nullifies the decision of the Maharashtra, Delhi and West Bengal governments to promote students in their universities based on their past performances.
It, however, held that the decision taken by the state of Maharashtra to cancel exams amid the pandemic under the Disaster Management Act shall prevail.
But, at the same time, the direction of the State Disaster Management Authority to promote the students based on previous performance is beyond the scope of the Disaster Management Act, the court held.
Another Bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, had on August 17 rejected the plea to postpone the entrance exams of JEE and NEET. The Congress on Friday took the lead to challenge the decision through a writ petition.
Students from across the country hit the social media and TV channels, asserting that they won't take the exams at the risk to their lives and their families, since some of them may be infected with the virus.
In its well-reasoned 160-page long judgment, the court directed the UGC to convey the rescheduled date of exam "at the earliest" to the states/union territories on an application by them seeking to extend the deadline of 30.09.2020, if the state/Union Territory has decided under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, that it is not possible to conduct the exam by the deadline so fixed.
This will especially apply to Maharashtra and there will be no loss of year for its students who can take the exam subsequently.
Seven chief ministers of the opposition-ruled states, who had decided on Wednesday at a video-conferenced meeting convened by Sonia Gandhi to challenge conduct of the JEE and NEET exams, may seek a review of Friday's decision as well.
The court has disposed of four writ petitions filed by 31 students as also those of Shiv Sena's youth wing Yuva Sena, seeking cancellation of the final year examinations.