The Supreme Court upholding the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) guidelines on conducting the final exams this year but allowing states to seek postponement beyond September 30 due to COVID-19 crisis is a mixed bag for the Shiv Sena led Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
At the same time, it’s a breather for the state government as the apex court has said the State Disaster Management Authority’s (SDMA) decision to postpone will prevail but has ruled that it cannot decide to pass students without exams. SC has rejected the argument by the state government and Yuva Sena on cancellation of final year exams but has allowed the government to seek new dates from the UGC making it clear that exams cannot be cancelled.
State government had issued notification on cancellation of final year exams. The government had said that the students will be passed on the aggregate of averages of previous semesters and they can be given an option of appearing for the exam after it will be held by the universities.
Maharashtra Minister of Higher and Technical Education Uday Samant told Free Press Journal, ‘’The government is currently studying the Supreme Court order and later will decide its future course of action.’’ He also said he will address the press conference at 1 pm to offer his views on the apex court order.
State government may approach the UGC asking for dates to be deferred beyond September 30 or may file a review decision. This will be done after seeking legal view.
Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray led Yuva Sena had filed the petition challenging the UGC’s revised guidelines issued on July 6 asking states to hold final year exams by September 30, 2020. Yuva Sena had prayed that each university be allowed to chart out its own plan of action with respect to the Terminal semester/final year examinations depending on the local conditions in their respective states to provide relief to students.
On the other hand, Samant had categorically said the government does not want to hold exams endangering the lives of more than 9 lakh students and appealed the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and UGC not to make it an ego issue.
Subsequently, the state government in its affidavit had submitted the decisions taken by the SDMA on June 18 and July 13 recommending the cancellation of final year examinations because of the coronavirus pandemic. The government has also submitted a notification issued on June 19 based on the DMA’s decision on the cancellation of final year exams.
‘’The Vice Chancellors of all the non-agricultural universities in its report of July 4 submitted to the government said that it was not possible to conduct examinations at present. Considering the VC’s opinion, all members of SDMA unanimously expressed that it would not be possible to hold exams in the present circumstances to secure the future of the students due to uncertainty of results and commencement of the next academic year. So SDMA upheld the decision taken by the state government on June 19 regarding the final session/year examinations of non-professional and professional courses, said the state government citing the SDMA’s decision.
Besides, SDMA decided to request UGC as it was not possible to conduct exams as per the July 6 guidelines on holding final year exams by September end. Further, SDMA said that Covid 19 was not limited to urban areas but also spread to rural areas. College buildings and student hostels have been acquired by the local administration for isolation rooms in Mumbai, Mumbai suburbs, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, Aurangabad and several other districts.
‘’It is important to look after the health interest of the students and therefore the state government based on DMA’s decisions have taken a decision to cancel final year exams by giving an option to appear for exams whenever they are conducted. Students will be passed based on the aggregate of averages of previous semesters,’’ said the state government.