COVID-19| Final Year Exams: Maharashtra files affidavit; States why Disaster Management Authority decided against conduct of exams

Supreme Court: Dr. Dhanraj R. Mane, Director of Higher Education has filed the affidavit on behalf of the State of Maharashtra in the plea challenging the conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis the Court directed that the decision of the State Disaster Management Committee dated June 19, 2020 be brought on record.

The affidavit clarifies that that the decision of the State Disaster Management Committee dated June 19, 2020 does not exist as the State of Maharashtra has constituted the State Disaster Management Authority and not Committee as the Disaster Management Act, 2005 does not contemplate constitution of a Committee. The Act contemplates constitution of an Advisory Committee by the Authority.

On the request of the Higher and Technical Education Department, the Authority convened a meeting on June 18, 2020 to decide the issue regarding holding of examinations across the State and after deliberating on the issue at length, took the decision of not holding the last year final semester examinations for both professional and non-professional courses. Hence, in compliance of the said decision, the Maharashtra Government issued resolution dated June 19, 2020.

In view of UGC’s revised Guidelines dated July 6, 2020, another meeting was convened on July 13, 2020 and after considering the alarming COVID-19 situation in the entire State, imposition of lockdown, college buildings being used as isolation centres, etc, it was decided that it was not possible to hold examinations in the State and the decision dated June 18, 2020 was affirmed. The affidavit, hence, states that the Authorities decision dated July 13, 2020 must be taken into consideration.

Regarding the decisions of certain State Governments to cancel the Final Year exams, UGC has, in it’s affidavit, stated that the said decision is contrary to UGC Guidelines and encroaches on Parliament’s power under Entry 66 of List I of Schedule VII to coordinate and determine the standards of higher education.

UGC has also emphasised on the need to conduct the examinations as it is the crucial step in the academic career of a student.

“… it would be irrational to exempt students from final year/terminal semester examinations and to graduate them based on their past performance.”

Final Year Student Yash Dubey, who has also challenged the Revised Guidelines, along with 31 other students,  in his rejoinder, submitted that

“it is baffling to note that just one semester of examination will be determinative of the integrity and value of a degree for which students worked hard for six (for three years course) and to ten semesters (for five year course),…”

When the Court heard the matter on July 31, 2020, Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Yash Dubey, told the Court that Heavens will not fall if exams are not conducted.


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