Apart from the employment sector, the coronavirus pandemic has heavily disrupted academics. With all schools, colleges and educational institutions shut at the moment, students’ fear that there will be a long gap in their academic graph as the exams have also been pending since the lockdown began.
Amid a court battle opened by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the body said on Friday that students need to buckle up with their preparations without believing that the ongoing hearing at Supreme Court will make any changes to their examination schedules.
“Students should continue to prepare for the examinations. Students should not be under the impression that examinations will be stayed because of the Supreme Court hearing,” the UGC (University Grants Commission), which is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education, said in court.
Supreme Court postponed the proceedings to August 10th, refusing to pass an order on the dozen pleas filed by petitioners against the UGC’s announced schedule for conducting final year degree exams in September this year.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a representative for one of the many petitioners, debated in court on Friday that UGC’s unbending decision to conduct exams, along with the online exams facility, was illogical and detrimental.
He highlighted that some of the institutions were devoid of the basic digital IT requirement in its varsity which implied that it is unfit to hold even online exams.
“Optional exam is problematic. If someone cannot appear and is given a later option it will create chaos,” Mr Singhvi said.
To this, the court claimed that the decision is for the benefit of the students.
Mr Singhvi pointed out that parts of the Disaster Management Act permit state governments to take individual decisions and arguing that “heavens won’t fall if exams are cancelled.”
The court then asked the Maharashtra government, which has cancelled final-year exams for state-run colleges, to place on record the decision taken by the state’s disaster management committee.
The top court heard petitions filed many parties today, including the one from Aaditya Thackeray, Maharashtra cabinet minister through the youth department of Shiva Sena. The plea stated that the UGC’s declaration “ignored the physical and mental health, including the safety of the student” by pushing students to write the exams on the said date.
In its earlier statement announced in the first week of July, the Home Ministry had said that the final year exams need to be conducted. To clarify its hold on its previous decision, the Supreme Court asked the government to give its final statement, to which the Centre said that the same would be given by August 3rd, Monday. However, it urged students to continue with their exam preparations without any doubts in mind.
“By Monday we will (but) nobody should be under the impression that they cannot prepare. Students should prepare for the exam,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.
Another petitioner claimed that the current situation of Bihar due to the floods isn’t favourable for the exams to take place and that an interim order must be issued in this regard. SC declined to do so.
The UGC has been continuously slammed for announcing decisions to hold exams even after the curve of coronavirus in India is nowhere near flattening. The body termed its decision of July 30th as one that is “not arbitrary and that the call by some states for cancellation will impact the standards.”
However, the education body said that a special privilege for appearing for the exam will be given to those who, due to some reasons, are unable to write the same.
The hearing took place through a virtual video conference with Supreme Court three-judge bench, comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah.