Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi*, JJ has held that the Courts cannot issue mandamus to frame policy.

The Court was hearing the case where the last attemptees of the UPSC Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020 had sought an extra attempt to clear the exam in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also read: COVID 19 a “lame excuse”: Here’s why SC refused to allow extra attempt for UPSC CSE to last attemptees

It was argued before the Court that there is always a change in the upper age limit and number of attempts in different spell and that in the year 2015, the Union of India allowed one more attempt in the Civil Service Examination 2015 for the candidates who appeared in CSE 2011.

However, as pointed out by the Union of India, there was a substantial change in the pattern of Civil Service (Preliminary) Examination 2011, in the given circumstances, it was considered appropriate to grant one more attempt in Civil Service Examination, 2015 to such candidates who appeared in Civil Service Examination, 2011 either due to reaching upper age limit or due to exhausting of number of attempts.

The Court, however, noticed that the said instance cannot be made to be the basis or a foundation for the petitioners to site as a precedent in claiming to seek one additional attempt as a matter of right which is not permissible under the scheme of Rules 2020 or with the aid of Article 14 of the Constitution to take a call in meeting out the difficulties which have been faced as alleged in the given circumstance.

“Judicial review of a policy decision and to issue mandamus to frame policy in a particular manner are absolutely different.”

It is within the realm of the executive to take a policy decision based on the prevailing circumstances for better administration and in meeting out the exigencies but at the same time, it is not within the domain of the Courts to legislate. The Courts do interpret the laws and in such an interpretation, certain creative process is involved. The Courts have the jurisdiction to declare the law as unconstitutional. That too, where it is called for.  The Court is called upon to consider the validity of a policy decision only when a challenge is made that such policy decision infringes fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution or any other statutory right.

“Merely because as a matter of policy, if the 1st respondent has granted relaxation in the past for  the reason that there was  a change in the examination pattern/syllabus and in the given situation, had considered to be an impediment for the participant in the Civil Service Examination, no assistance can be claimed by the petitioners in seeking mandamus to the 1st respondent to come out with a policy granting relaxation to the participants who had availed a final and last attempt or have crossed the upper age by appearing in the Examination 2020 as a matter of right.”

[Rachna v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 140, decided on 24.02.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Ajay Rastogi

Appearances in the matter by

For petitioners: Senior Advocate Shyam Divan,  

For Respondents: Additional Solicitor General S.V.   Raju and advocate Naresh Kaushik

For intervenors: Senior Advocates P.V. Narasimha and Pallav Shishodia

https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2021/02/24/covid-19-a-lame-excuse-to-take-extra-attempt-to-clear-civil-service-examination-heres-why-sc-refused-to-allow-extra-attempt-for-upse-cse-to-last-attemptees/

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the last attemptees of the UPSC Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020 had sought an extra attempt to clear the exam in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi*, JJ has refused the plea and has held that allowing extra attempt in such a case would set a precedent and also have cascading effect on examinations in other streams.

“The data furnished to this Court by the Commission clearly indicate that various selections have been held by the Commission for Central Services in the year 2020 during COVID-19 pandemic and selections must have been held by State Commissions and other recruiting agencies, if this Court shows indulgence to few who had participated in the Examination 2020, it will set down a precedent and also have cascading effect on examinations in other streams, for which we are dissuaded to exercise plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.”

The Court, however, left it to the Government to exercise its discretion in meeting out the nature of difficulties, if come across in future in dealing with the situation, if required.

What was being claimed?

The petitioners were unable to qualify in their last attempt in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020, held on 4th October 2020 and approached the Court seeking mandamus to the Government to extend one additional attempt to them as they are being barred from attempting the examination in future on account of exhausting of available attempts or on account of age bar subsequent to Examination 2020.

It was argued before the Court that,

“the sudden and strict lockdown due to unprecedented pandemic in March, 2020 had made a  large disruption in the life of the common man and the measures adopted led to difficulties and impediments in the preparation of the Examination 2020 for many aspirants and the Government failed to take any policy decision for the last attemptees before   holding Examination 2020 to enable them to take an appropriate/suitable decision and noticing precedence from the earlier policy of 1st respondent to grant an extra attempt to last attemptees in the event causing widespread hardships left with no choice except to appear in the examination even though they did not have an adequate opportunity and infrastructure and they were left out blinded with uncertainty.”

Why the Court refused the plea of the petitioners?

The Court noticed that what was being prayed “in the first blush appears to be attractive but it lacks legal strength and foundation for various reasons.”

Adequate opportunity

The scheme of Rules 2020 clearly stipulate that the entry age to participate in this competition is 21 years and the exit age for general candidates is 32 years and at least each candidate gets minimum 11 years to participate in the competitive examination, i.e., CSE, in the instant case. For those who claim reservation vertical/ horizontal, they have numerous/unlimited chances and are also entitled for age relaxations.

No discretion with authority to grant relaxations

It may further be noticed that under Rule 6 of Rules 2020, there is a clear mandate that age limit prescribed in no case can be relaxed subject to the relaxations which have been enumerated for various categories. So far as the candidates who appear in the general category and have crossed the age of 32 years, no discretion is left with the authority to grant any relaxation in upper age limit prescribed for the candidates appeared in the instant Examination 2020.

No change in syllabus and additional time to prepare

The syllabus of the preliminary examination has not changed since 2015 and after the Rules 2020 were notified, the notice for the Examination 2020 was published on 12th February 2020 and the scheduled date of the examination was fixed on 31st May, 2020 but because of the unprecedented situation of Covid¬19 pandemic, the Commission took a policy decision to defer the examination and in the changed situation, after there was a relaxation in the lockdown, ultimately on 5th June, 2020 took a decision to hold the examination on 4th October 2020 and, therefore, instead of three   months, the candidates got additional five months (i.e. eight months) to which one ordinarily can  prepare for appearing in  the examination  in terms of the scheme of Rules 2020.

Already a “second chance” given to candidates

Under the scheme of Rules 2020, mere filling up of the form is not sufficient to avail an attempt.  If someone appeared in either of the paper of the preliminary examination, that was considered to be an attempt availed by the candidate and, in the given situation, after the application form was filled, the candidates who wanted to withdraw their application form at the later stage because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the commission took a policy decision to open the window for the second time, which in the ordinary course is not available under the scheme of rules, for the candidates who intended to withdraw their application from 1st August, 2020 to 8th August, 2020.

“Since the   examination was scheduled for 4th October, 2020 only those candidates were left who were mentally prepared to appear and willing to avail an opportunity of appearing in the Examination 2020 and after appearing in the examination, when they could not qualify, it has given a way to the present litigation on the specious ground of Covid-19 pandemic that they were unable to effectively participate in the process of selection which has been initiated by the Commission in holding preliminary examination on 4th October, 2020.”

No special case of petitioners than those who have appeared in various examinations in the year 2020

A  large number of candidates appeared in the various examinations in the year 2020 during COVID-19 pandemic and everyone must have faced some constraints/impediments/inconvenience in one way or the other,

“… merely because the present petitioners made a complaint to this Court, cannot be taken into isolation for the purpose of seeking additional chance/attempt in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic, which has been faced by not only the candidates appeared in Examination 2020 but by the candidates appeared in the various examinations/recruitment tests held by the State Commissions or by other recruiting agencies and by and large, every member of the society in one way or the other but that does not in any manner give legitimate right to the petitioners to claim additional benefit/attempt which is otherwise not permissible under the scheme of Rules 2020.”

Can the Court issue mandamus to frame policy?

It was argued before the Court that there is always a change in the upper age limit and number of attempts in different spell and that in the year 2015, the Union of India allowed one more attempt in the Civil Service Examination 2015 for the candidates who appeared in CSE 2011.

However, as pointed out by the Union of India, there was a substantial change in the pattern of   Civil Service (Preliminary) Examination 2011, in the given circumstances, it was considered appropriate to grant one more attempt in Civil Service Examination, 2015 to such candidates who appeared in Civil Service Examination, 2011 either due to reaching upper age limit or due to exhausting of number of attempts.

The Court, however, noticed that the said instance cannot be made to be the basis or a foundation for the petitioners to site as a precedent in claiming to seek one additional attempt as a matter of right which is not permissible under the scheme of Rules 2020 or with the aid of Article 14 of the Constitution to take a call in meeting out the difficulties which have been faced as alleged in the given circumstance.

“Judicial review of a policy decision and to issue mandamus to frame policy in a particular manner are absolutely different.”

It is within the realm of the executive to take a policy decision based on the   prevailing circumstances for better administration and in meeting out the exigencies but at the same time, it is not within the domain of the Courts to legislate. The Courts do interpret the laws and in such an interpretation, certain creative process is involved. The Courts have the jurisdiction to declare the law as unconstitutional. That too, where it is called for.  The Court is called upon to consider the validity of a policy decision only when a challenge is made that such policy decision infringes fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution or any other statutory right.

“Merely because as a matter of policy, if the 1st respondent has granted relaxation in the past for  the reason that there was  a change in the examination pattern/syllabus and in the given situation, had considered to be an impediment for the participant in the Civil Service Examination, no assistance can be claimed by the petitioners in seeking mandamus to the 1st respondent to come out with a policy granting relaxation to the participants who had availed a final and last attempt or have crossed the upper age by appearing in the Examination 2020 as a matter of right.”

[Rachna v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 140, decided on 24.02.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Ajay Rastogi

Appearances in the matter by

For petitioners: Senior Advocate Shyam Divan,  

For Respondents: Additional Solicitor General S.V.   Raju and advocate Naresh Kaushik

For intervenors: Senior Advocates P.V. Narasimha and Pallav Shishodia

Hot Off The PressNews

Bar Council of India has notified that AIBE XVI onwards — No books, notes or study material will be allowed in the examination hall. Candidates can only carry Bare Acts without notes.

The said notification can be accessed on the following website: https://allindiabarexamination.com

 

———————————————————————————————————–

IMPORTANT DATES FOR AIBE-XVI

-26th Dec 2020 – Online Registrations Begins.

-21st Feb, 2021 – Last date for Online Registrations

-06th March, 2021* – Release of Admit Card Online.

-21st March,2021* – All India Bar Examination-XVI in various cities across India.


All India Bar Examination

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The question before Prabhat Kumar Singh J., for contemplation, was “Whether the candidate has violated the instructions in the OMR sheet and whether his result was right annulled by the Controller of Examination ?”

Petitioner sought quashing of the decision delivered by Controller of Examination declaring the result invalid for Physical Education and Health Instructor Ability Test, 2019, due to alleged usage of eraser and whitener in the OMR sheet.

Ritika Rani, counsel for the petitioner, challenged the said decision on the basis that it was arbitrary and irrational. It was vehemently argued that it was a mere mistake committed by the petitioner and the punishment was inadequate considering the nature of the mistake. It was further argued that the Board has not expressly informed about the said instructions.

On the contrary the counsel for respondents, Girijinsh Kumar and Pramod Kumar Singh, categorically stated the issue was already settled by a Coordinate Bench in Brajesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, CWJC No. 16359 of 2017, where the Court has dismissed the petition and held that “since the use of whitener, etc. was specifically prohibited under the instructions, no direction can be issued for publishing the result of those candidates.” It was further submitted that clear instruction was given to all the candidates including writ petitioner, not to use pen, eraser, or whitener on the OMR Sheets while attempting questions, otherwise the result will be declared invalid.

The court on perusal of records was of the opinion that petitioners violated the instructions given by the Board while answering the questions in OMR Sheets. It was held that “Such infringement of instruction during examination amounts to misconduct, hence such candidates are liable not to be selected.” Petition was dismissed as there was no irregularity in the order of the Controller.[Om Prakash Paswan v. State of Bihar, 2021 SCC OnLine Pat 73, decided on 13-01-2021]


Aastha Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Division Bench of Shivaji Pandey and Partha Sarthy, JJ., addressed the demand of Bihar Public Service Commission to quash impugned order of the Single Judge directing the Commission to constitute an expert committee for re-evaluation of questions.

Background

 On 15-07-2018, an examination was conducted by the Commission for the post of Assistant Engineers (Civil). After completion of examination, Key Answers of the concerned subjects was published. Later, on receiving objections pertaining to framing of wrong questions, wrong answers in the model answer-sheet or having more than one answers of a question, an expert committee was set up by the Commission to examine the said objections. Altogether, answers of 15 questions were found to be wrong but the questions claimed to be wrong by the respondents were not within those 15 answers. Hence, a petition was filed before the Single Judge against the findings of the Committee, whereby it was held that the committee had made an error and the Commission was directed to re-evaluate the questions.

The Commission submitted that, question setters were experts in their respective fields and objections were referred to another committee of experts, who were also experts in their respective fields. The said committee, after examining the objections submitted its report that answers of 15 questions were wrong leaving the four questions raised by the respondents, so the petitioners could not raise the same claim twice. It was also contended that books relied by the respondents to prove errors were not standard books and that the Single Judge had no power under judicial review to scrutinize which answer of the expert was correct or which answer was incorrect.

Whereas, the respondents claimed that Doctrine of prejudice would apply in the present case as there were are justifiable doubts with regard to opinion of the committee. Hence, it will be appropriate for the Court, under the power of judicial review, to give direction to revisit the answers.

Observations

 The Court, while citing Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education v. Paritosh Bhupeshkumar Sheth, (1984) 4 SCC 27, stated that, the Court cannot enter into the domain of academician and act as an appellate body over the opinion of the experts. The Court has little expertise to embark upon and to assess correctness of the view of experts unless on the face of it, it appears to be absurd or wrong. The members of expert committee were from reputed institutions,they had knowledge of their respective subjects to verify the objections and give report. The Court could not say that they do not have knowledge to examine the correctness of the objections filed by the respondents. The Court stated, “The academic matter should be left to the domain of the academician.”

The Court relied on Kanpur University v. Samit Gupta, (1983) 4 SCC 309, wherein it was held by the Supreme Court that, the key answer should be assumed to be correct unless it is proved to be wrong and the onus is on the candidate to not only demonstrate that the key answer is incorrect but also that it is a glaring mistake which is totally apparent and no inferential process or reasoning is required to show that the key answer is wrong….The Constitutional Courts must exercise great restraint in such matters and should be reluctant to entertain a plea challenging the correctness of the key answers. The Court refused to interfere with the model answer key while citing the decision of Ran Vijay Singh and Ors. v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2018) 2 SCC 357, where the Supreme Court had held that, “sympathy or compassion does not play any role in the matter of directing or not directing re-evaluation of an answer sheet. The entire examination process does not deserve to be derailed only because some candidates are disappointed or dissatisfied or perceive some injustice having been caused to them by an erroneous question or an erroneous answer. When there is no provision for re-evaluation, the candidate will not have right to get the answer-sheet re-evaluated but, when such provision is there in the statute and the error is so apparent without application of inferential process of reasoning and thought, then the Court may direct for re-evaluation of the answer-sheet.” But in the present case, the Court observed, the Commission had conducted the examination following the transparent process, had constituted a committee of experts on receipt of objections and the objections were examined and answers were re-evaluated by the said committee, so now there could not be further evaluation.

Decision

Noticing that, if this Court directs for revisit of answer sheets of impugned questions then, it might lead to a never-ending chain of litigation; the Court said,  the candidates and the examining body had invested their time and put their tremendous effort in the examination, that should not go waste and unless there exist blatant error in the key answers as well as in the opinion of the expert, it would be unjustified to interfere with the view of experts, otherwise it would be nothing but sitting over the opinion of the expert as an appellate authority, which would be outside the scope of the judicial review.

In view of the above, the Court held that interference by the Single in the report of the committee and giving direction for constitution of fresh expert committee to revisit the answer sheet was outside the realm of judicial review. Consequently, the impugned order was set aside with directions to the Commission to proceed further and declare the result of the mains examination. [Bihar Public Service Commission v. Ashish Kumar Pathak, 2021 SCC OnLine Pat 24, decided on 05-01-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ravi Malimath and R.C. Khulbe, JJ., allowed a writ petition filed by the petitioner aggrieved by the order of the Commission rejecting his caste certificate because of which he was unable to avail reservation and appear for the interview.

The respondent had issued a notification for the post of Uttarakhand Judicial Services Civil Judge (Junior Division) Examination-2019, for selection of 15 posts by way of direct recruitment. By a corrigendum, the number of vacancies were increased from 15 to 28. Out of these vacancies, the reservations were demarcated. The petitioner had applied as a candidate belonging to the un-reserved category. It was indicated that the cut-off marks for the unreserved category was 145.75 marks, whereas the petitioner had secured 141.75 marks. The petitioner, being convinced that he had received less marks filed the instant writ petition seeking for a writ, to direct the respondents to examine the veracity of the answers. Errors were noticed in the marks awarded. On considering the same, the Court was of the view that the petitioner would be entitled to 5 more marks making him eligible to write the main examination and consequently he wrote the main exam. In the interregnum, petitioner had filed an application before respondent 1 to consider him as a candidate belonging to the OBC category which was denied by the respondent. Thereafter, an application was filed seeking for additional prayers to quash the impugned order rejecting the plea of the petitioner to declare that he is entitled to be considered under the OBC category; and to direct the respondent-Commission to revise the result of the examination, and consequential reliefs.

The counsel for the respondent, B.D. Kandpal contended that petitioner was not a domicile of the State of Uttarakhand, and therefore, was disqualified from writing the exam and that the petitioner had applied under the unreserved category while filling up the form for the preliminary exam because of which he cannot be allowed to change the category to OBC.

The cut off for the general merit category is 50%, namely, 425 marks, and for the OBC category, it is 40%, namely 340 marks. He secured 388 marks out of 850 marks which make the petitioner ineligible to appear for the interview while in the un-reserved category. However, what is relevant herein is that the caste certificate was produced by the petitioner before the respondent-Commission which was rejected by them.

The Court while allowing the petition explained that the certificate entitling the petitioner, as belonging to the OBC category, was issued to him before the last date of filing the documents, therefore, respondent should have rightly considered the petitioner as belonging to the OBC category. The Court relying on a Supreme Court judgment stated “There is a difference between ‘fact’ and ‘proof’. There can be no relaxation so far as facts are concerned. The fact is that the candidate must belong to a category which he claims. The proof is a submission of material in proof of such a claim. Therefore, even if there is a delay in submitting the proof of the claim, the same can be condoned.”

The order of rejection passed by the respondent was quashed and it was directed to consider the writ petitioner as a candidate belonging to the OBC category for the purposes of the main examination along with making sure that petitioner participates in the interview to be held by the Commission during 17th to 19th September, 2020 as an OBC candidate.[Ishank v. Uttarakhand Public Service Commission, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 549, decided on 15-09-2020]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Law School NewsOthers

NLSIU has released a notification stating that there have been unfounded allegations with respect to the NLAT paper leak. As per the official release, students who faced technical difficulties were given an additional slot on monday. A legal news website claimed that they got their hands on the copy of the exam questions while the exam was still going on.

NLSIU has replied that it does appear that some questions were copied and circulated on emails and messaging apps after logging in. Although this is a malpractice under proctoring rules but this does not affect the integrity of the exam as all questions were available to candidates after login. As the technology platform tracks and compares every student’s answer behaviour patterns therefore any unusual behaviour will result in identification and disqualification. NLSIU has reassured candidates and their parents that they will be transparent and ensure exam integrity at all times.

The circular can be read here.[1]


[1] https://www.nls.ac.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/PRESS-RELEASE-3.pdf


*Nilufer Bhateja, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of A.A. Syed and S.P. Tavade, JJ., addressed the grievance of a petition with regard to the conduct of examinations in its College Campus which has been requisitioned as a COVID Centre.

Petitioner made a pint that in the college campus belonging to the petitioner-trust, it is running various educational courses which was requisitioned by an order dated 27-03-2020 by invoking the provisions of the Disaster Management Act and is being used as a Corona Care Center.

Submission has been made that the above-said premises is now required, as it is an examination center for the 2nd-year P.B.B.Sc Nursing Course.

Adding to the above, it was stated that the said premises is being used as COVID Care Center, the patients who are admitted to the said COVID Care Center are asymptomatic and they can be shifted elsewhere so that the said premises can be used for conducting the examination.

Petitioner hence sought the directions to release the said premises from the requisition and further directions to shift the COVID patients admitted in the said premises to alternate premises.

Decision 

High Court stated that it will not pass any mandatory orders considering the paucity of time and risk involved in the health and safety of the students to write the examination in said premises which is presently being used as COVID care center.

Further, it was added that there appears to be a substantial risk involved in transferring the COVID positive patients.

In case the said patients are transferred, then the premises will have to be deeply sanitized and made virus-free.

Therefore, respondents-authorities shall ensure that for 80 students who are to write the examination of the 4th year, either at St. Jyotiprasad School, Daund (which is stated to have 40 rooms) or St. Sebastian High School Daund (which is stated to have 35 rooms) shall be made available from 8th September, 2020 to 16th September, 2020.

For students travelling from the outstation, necessary arrangements shall be made.

Court also directed the SDO, Purandar to oversee the aforesaid arrangements to ensure that the examination is conducted smoothly. 

Matter to be listed on 23-09-2020. [Daun Medical Foundations’ Sushrusha v. State of Maharashtra, WP (ST) No. 92378 of 2020, decided on 04-09-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

After the All India Students Association has moved a letter petition on behalf of over 800 students earlier this month, a writ petition has been filed seeking suo moto congnizance of Supreme Court against the direction of CBSE to conduct the compartment examination amidst COVID-19 crisis.

The petition highlights that as per the CBSE Class X and XII results declared last month, around 150198 Class X students and around 87651 Class XII students were placed in the category of compartment full subject. When approached the Supreme Court, the students were asked to make representation before CBSE and upon doing so, CBSE, on August 6, 2020, without taking account of the present health crisis, provided for conduct of compartment exams.

Terming the said decision of CBSE to be in sheer violation of right to health which is part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the petition submits:

  • the conduct of compartment examination will expose the examinees to a great risk. The conduct of offline exam will entail students to travel from one place to another which will further involve the risk of shared accommodation, use of public transport, etc. The petition states that the conduct of examination will also increase the risk of the parents, teachers, staff members, etc being exposed to the virus.
  • the conduct of online exam will be against the interest of students who do not have proper access to internet/laptops/personal computers.
  • the decision of the CBSE is itself flawed as it is against the MHA Unlock III guideline dated 29.07.2020, which provides that the schools, colleges and educational institutions will remain closed.
  • many states including Bihar, Telangana and Manipur have cancelled their state board examination, in view of COVID 19. It is considering the exponential growth in the number of COVID-19 cases.
  • Ramesh Pokhriyal, Minister of Higher Education has stated that yet there is no date fixed for reopening schools and the safety of the students is a primary concern.

“When there is no deadline for opening of schools, how can the students be then expected to appear for compartment examination in the current situation.”

  • On 12.08.2020, C.B.S.E. issued a circular providing for the filing of the examination form for compartment examination by 20.08.2020 extended upto 22.08.2020 (with late fees) and that the compartment examination are proposed to be conducted in September. However, it did not specify any particular date, schedule or mode of conduction of the said examination.
  • many colleges are about to close admissions and some have already announced their admission closure date, which is adversely affecting the career of lacs of students, who will be deprived entrance into Universities/Colleges/Institutions, where they are eligible to apply for admission.

“… if an alternative mechanism is not derived, many students will lose an academic year.”

The Students have, hence, prayed that the universities/colleges/educational institutions, in which a student is eligible to apply, are directed to extend deadline for admission for academic year 2020-2021, until the result of the compartment examination is announced.

The students also sought for direction to direct the C.B.S.E. to provide for alternative mode of assessment for the students placed in the category compartment and to provide a specific date (at the earliest) for the completion of the assessment of compartment students so that their right to apply to various universities/colleges/educational institutions, who have already announced the admission closing date, is not affected.

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Court had finally reserved it’s verdict in a batch of petitions filed by Final Year students challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis. It has given liberty to all the parties to file their written submissions, if any, within a period of 3 days.

UGC has, during the hearing, 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. Dr Singhvi also submitted that “a Farman has been issued with complete non application of mind to complete exams by September 2020.”

Ministry of Home Affairs filed an affidavit and has said while the MHA Unlock-3 Guidelines dated 29.07.2020 continue to require schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions to remain closed till 31.08.2020, the universities/institutions will be and are clearly intended to be exempted from the said restriction for the limited purpose of holding Final Term Examinations / evaluation work in terms of the UGC guidelines on examinations.

Earlier, UGC had stated that the decision of the State Government to cancel final year/terminal semester examinations and graduate students without such examinations, encroaches on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education that is exclusively reserved for Parliament under Entry 66 of List I of Schedule VH of the Constitution.

UGC submitted that

“it aims to protect the academic future of students across the country which will be irreparably damaged if their final year/terminal semester examinations are not held, while also keeping in mind their health and safety.”

Maharashtra Students’ Union, a non-profit organization working for welfare of students, more particularly students pursuing higher education, filed an Intervention Application in the plea challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis.

It submitted that a Bachelor’s degree is conferred on the basis of a collective assessment of all 3 years of a Bachelor’s course and not of the final semester alone. The affidavit states that

“the last examination or the final examination of students of Higher and Technical Education does not carry any special weightage or decisive value which a final year examination used to carry in the erstwhile education system, as the evaluation is done on a cumulative assessment of all semesters in a degree course.”


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Hot Off The PressNews

State of Odisha has filed an affidavit in the plea challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis and has said that  the impugned Revised Guidelines of the university Grants commission fails to notice that the sanctity of such final examinations, if held, will be greatly compromised while holding the examinations inasmuch as:

(1) there will be single sitting examination for all subjects;

(2) the duration of the examinations will be short;

(3) the assessment will be made on the basis of multiple choice  questions in place of subjective questions;

(4) there might be unfair practices, which may include an open book examination etc taking into account the current COVID- 19 situation.

Therefore, the examinations should not be conducted just for the sake of conducting it.

The State also highlights that UGC has failed to take note of the Government of Odisha, Higher Education Department letter dated 18.06.2020 wherein the alternative evaluation method for Under Graduate and Post Graduate Final Year/Final Semester 2020 students was spelt out. Nor has it considered the letters dated 09.07.2020 and 23.07.2020 highlighting the various difficulties in the present COVID-19 scenario and requesting him to re-examine the entire issue and to allow the State Government to implement its own decision by not making the Revised Guidelines mandatory on the State Government.

The State submits that,

“State of Odisha is not shying away from holding the final examinations but only prays that during the present time the holding of final examinations should be kept in abeyance and the alternative evaluation system should be adopted.”

UGC, in its response, however, stated that the letter dated 18.06.2020 is in contravention to the Revised Guidelines and that any decision of State Government to cancel the exams or to graduate the students by using ‘alternative evaluation system’ will be in contravention of the UGC Revised Guidelines as UGC has taken a Policy Decision backed by the statute in the interest of students.

Ministry of Home Affairs filed an affidavit and has said while the MHA Unlock-3 Guidelines dated 29.07.2020 continue to require schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions to remain closed till 31.08.2020, the universities/institutions will be and are clearly intended to be exempted from the said restriction for the limited purpose of holding Final Term Examinations / evaluation work in terms of the UGC guidelines on examinations.

Earlier, in it’s response to the affidavit filed by the State of NCT of Delhi, UGC stated that Delhi’s decision to cancel final year/terminal semester examinations and graduate students without such examinations, encroaches on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education that is exclusively reserved for Parliament under Entry 66 of List I of Schedule VH of the Constitution. As such, the State Government’s decision dated 11.07.2020 is contrary to the UGC’s Guidelines which have been issued for maintaining the standards of higher education and is void ab initio.

UGC submitted that

“it aims to protect the academic future of students across the country which will be irreparably damaged if their final year/terminal semester examinations are not held, while also keeping in mind their health and safety.”

Maharashtra Students’ Union, a non-profit organization working for welfare of students, more particularly students pursuing higher education, filed an Intervention Application in the plea challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis.

It submitted that a Bachelor’s degree is conferred on the basis of a collective assessment of all 3 years of a Bachelor’s course and not of the final semester alone. The affidavit states that

“the last examination or the final examination of students of Higher and Technical Education does not carry any special weightage or decisive value which a final year examination used to carry in the erstwhile education system, as the evaluation is done on a cumulative assessment of all semesters in a degree course.”

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ, had on August 10, 2020, sought a reply on whether the Disaster Management Act can override the UGC’s guidelines and posted the matter for further hearing on August 14, 2020.

Maharashtra, in it’s affidavit, has mentioned that after deliberating on the issue at length, the State Disaster Management Authority constituted under the  Disaster Management Act, 2005 took the decision of not holding the last year final semester examinations for both professional and non-professional courses.

NCT of Delhi has submitted that the Deputy Chief Minister/Higher and Technical Education Minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi has all Delhi State Universities to cancel all written online/offline semester examinations including final year examinationsUniversities have also been advised to devise alternative assessment measures to promote students of intermediary semesters and grant degrees to students of final semesters.

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.

On the last hearing i.e. on August 14, Dr Singhvi submitted that “a Farman has been issued with complete non application of mind to complete exams by September 2020.”

The Court is hearing the matter today.


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Supreme Court: After the MHA and UGC submitted their affidavits and yet again defended it’s Revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 on the ground that the conduct the examinations as it is the crucial step in the academic career of a student and that the States had no authority to cancel the examinations, Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Yash Dubey, told the Court that  “a Farman has been issued with complete non application of mind to complete exams by September 2020.”

Highlights of Dr. Singhvi’s arguments

  • exams cannot be conducted when no teaching has taken place.
  • all the students are a part of one homogeneous group and that the students of final year cannot be treated differently from rest of the years.
  • minutes of meeting of 13th July filed by Maharashtra in its affidavit is very clear that more than 10 lac students will travel, arrange for meals, use public transport which will jeopardize them grossly.
  • parents and grandparents of the students, the most vulnerable to the virus, will also be exposed to it.
  • Most of us, including me, are doing it for free for this cause concerning students

Dr. Singhvi has concluded his arguments in the matter and the Court will now take up the matter on August 18, 2020.

Highlights of Advocate Malak Bhatt’s Submission

  • Stand taken by the MHRD and the UGC are not only contrary to the clear directions passed by the MHA under the National Disaster Management Act, but also far away from the harsh realities of the present pandemic situation.
  • UGC guidelines undermine the paramount concern of student health and safety and is clearly violative of rights under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
  • Directions to conduct exams through offline or online modes with a mandate to complete them by end-September is also far from reality on the infrastructural facilities available with rural universities in specific to conduct exams in such times

Yesterday, Ministry of Home Affairs filed an affidavit in the plea challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis and has said while the MHA Unlock-3 Guidelines dated 29.07.2020 continue to require schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions to remain closed till 31.08.2020, the universities/institutions will be and are clearly intended to be exempted from the said restriction for the limited purpose of holding Final Term Examinations / evaluation work in terms of the UGC guidelines on examinations.

Earlier, in it’s response to the affidavit filed by the State of NCT of Delhi, UGC stated that Delhi’s decision to cancel final year/terminal semester examinations and graduate students without such examinations, encroaches on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education that is exclusively reserved for Parliament under Entry 66 of List I of Schedule VH of the Constitution. As such, the State Government’s decision dated 11.07.2020 is contrary to the UGC’s Guidelines which have been issued for maintaining the standards of higher education and is void ab initio.

UGC submitted that

it aims to protect the academic future of students across the country which will be irreparably damaged if their final year/terminal semester examinations are not held, while also keeping in mind their health and safety.”

Yesterday, Maharashtra Students’ Union, a non-profit organization working for welfare of students, more particularly students pursuing higher education, filed an Intervention Application in the plea challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis.

It submitted that a Bachelor’s degree is conferred on the basis of a collective assessment of all 3 years of a Bachelor’s course and not of the final semester alone. The affidavit states that

“the last examination or the final examination of students of Higher and Technical Education does not carry any special weightage or decisive value which a final year examination used to carry in the erstwhile education system, as the evaluation is done on a cumulative assessment of all semesters in a degree course.”

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ, had on August 10, 2020, sought a reply on whether the Disaster Management Act can override the UGC’s guidelines and posted the matter for further hearing on August 14, 2020.

Maharashtra, in it’s affidavit, has mentioned that after deliberating on the issue at length, the State Disaster Management Authority constituted under the  Disaster Management Act, 2005 took the decision of not holding the last year final semester examinations for both professional and non-professional courses.

NCT of Delhi has submitted that the Deputy Chief Minister/Higher and Technical Education Minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi has all Delhi State Universities to cancel all written online/offline semester examinations including final year examinationsUniversities have also been advised to devise alternative assessment measures to promote students of intermediary semesters and grant degrees to students of final semesters.

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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After UGC, Ministry of Home Affairs has also filed an affidavit in the plea challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis and has said while the MHA Unlock-3 Guidelines dated 29.07.2020 continue to require schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions to remain closed till 31.08.2020, the universities/institutions will be and are clearly intended to be exempted from the said restriction for the limited purpose of holding Final Term Examinations / evaluation work in terms of the UGC guidelines on examinations.

MHA submits that after the Ministry of Human Resource Development wrote to it on July 4, 2020 regarding the conduct of examinations, it after taking into consideration the academic interest of a large number of students, decided to grant exemption for the opening of educational institutions for the purposes of holding examinations/evaluation work for Final Term Examinations of the Universities/Institutions. The said decision was conveyed to MHRD on July 6, 2020. It was made clear that such Final Term Examinations were to be compulsorily conducted as per the ‘Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the Universities’; and as per the detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the conduct of such examinations, which had been approved by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

MHA, in it’s affidavit, submits that the Union Home Secretary has granted the aforesaid exemption for conduct of Final Term Examinations in exercise of powers under section 10(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act 2005. The said provision empowers the National Executive Committee to “lay down guidelines for, or give directions to, the concerned Ministries or Departments of the Government of India, the State Governments and the State Authorities regarding measures to be taken by them in response to any threatening disaster situation or disaster”.

Earlier today, in it’s response to the affidavit filed by the State of NCT of Delhi, UGC stated that Delhi’s decision to cancel final year/terminal semester examinations and graduate students without such examinations, encroaches on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education that is exclusively reserved for Parliament under Entry 66 of List I of Schedule VH of the Constitution. As such, the State Government’s decision dated 11.07.2020 is contrary to the UGC’s Guidelines which have been issued for maintaining the standards of higher education and is void ab initio.

UGC submits that

it aims to protect the academic future of students across the country which will be irreparably damaged if their final year/terminal semester examinations are not held, while also keeping in mind their health and safety.”

Yesterday, Maharashtra Students’ Union, a non-profit organization working for welfare of students, more particularly students pursuing higher education, filed an Intervention Application in the plea challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis.

It submitted that a Bachelor’s degree is conferred on the basis of a collective assessment of all 3 years of a Bachelor’s course and not of the final semester alone. The affidavit states that

“the last examination or the final examination of students of Higher and Technical Education does not carry any special weightage or decisive value which a final year examination used to carry in the erstwhile education system, as the evaluation is done on a cumulative assessment of all semesters in a degree course.”

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ, had on August 10, 2020, sought a reply on whether the Disaster Management Act can override the UGC’s guidelines and posted the matter for further hearing on August 14, 2020.

Maharashtra, in it’s affidavit, has mentioned that after deliberating on the issue at length, the State Disaster Management Authority constituted under the  Disaster Management Act, 2005 took the decision of not holding the last year final semester examinations for both professional and non-professional courses.

NCT of Delhi has submitted that the Deputy Chief Minister/Higher and Technical Education Minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi has all Delhi State Universities to cancel all written online/offline semester examinations including final year examinationsUniversities have also been advised to devise alternative assessment measures to promote students of intermediary semesters and grant degrees to students of final semesters.

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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UGC has filed a counter affidavit in the in the plea challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis. In it’s affidavit, UGC has submitted that it has taken a policy decision to conduct final year/terminal semester examinations in the interest of students across the country after duly considering the prevailing situation of a pandemic.

In it’s response to the affidavit filed by the State of NCT of Delhi, UGC states that Delhi’s decision to cancel final year/terminal semester examinations and graduate students without such examinations, encroaches on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education that is exclusively reserved for Parliament under Entry 66 of List I of Schedule VH of the Constitution. As such, the State Government’s decision dated 11.07.2020 is contrary to the UGC’s Guidelines which have been issued for maintaining the standards of higher education and is void ab initio.

 The affidavit highlights that Delhi has itself submitted that the examination / assessment process was actually completed “by online mode” in six out of the eight State universities/institutions in Delhi, despite the pandemic. It states that Delhi has

“unilaterally chosen to cancel the final year/terminal semester examinations and graduate students using “alternative assessment measures” in contravention of the UGC’s Guidelines, even though it was required to hold such examinations in the interest of the students.”

UGC submits that it aims to protect the academic future of students across the country which will be irreparably damaged if their final year/terminal semester examinations are not held, while also keeping in mind their health and safety.

Yesterday, Maharashtra Students’ Union, a non-profit organization working for welfare of students, more particularly students pursuing higher education, filed an Intervention Application in the plea challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis.

It submitted that a Bachelor’s degree is conferred on the basis of a collective assessment of all 3 years of a Bachelor’s course and not of the final semester alone. The affidavit states that

“the last examination or the final examination of students of Higher and Technical Education does not carry any special weightage or decisive value which a final year examination used to carry in the erstwhile education system, as the evaluation is done on a cumulative assessment of all semesters in a degree course.”

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ, had on August 10, 2020, sought a reply on whether the Disaster Management Act can override the UGC’s guidelines and posted the matter for further hearing on August 14, 2020.

Maharashtra, in it’s affidavit, has mentioned that after deliberating on the issue at length, the State Disaster Management Authority constituted under the  Disaster Management Act, 2005 took the decision of not holding the last year final semester examinations for both professional and non-professional courses.

NCT of Delhi has submitted that the Deputy Chief Minister/Higher and Technical Education Minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi has all Delhi State Universities to cancel all written online/offline semester examinations including final year examinationsUniversities have also been advised to devise alternative assessment measures to promote students of intermediary semesters and grant degrees to students of final semesters.

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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Maharashtra Students’ Union, a non-profit organization working for welfare of students, more particularly students pursuing higher education, has filed an Intervention Application in the plea challenging UGC’s revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 regarding conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis.

The Union, in it’s application, states that the guidelines dated 29.04.2020 or the revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 issued by the University Grants Commission are neither mandatory nor binding on the State Authority set up under Section 14 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

“In case of a conflict between laws made either by the Parliament and/or State Legislature and the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the latter shall prevail in accordance with the provisions of Section 72 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.”

Union has submitted that while UGC is concerned with the standards of education, the decision of the State Government regarding non-conduct of final exams in a situation of a national health crisis like the present COVID-19 pandemic cannot in the remotest manner be considered as an impediment on the powers of UGC to maintain standards of education.

It further states that a Bachelor’s degree is conferred on the basis of a collective assessment of all 3 years of a Bachelor’s course and not of the final semester alone. The affidavit states that

“the last examination or the final examination of students of Higher and Technical Education does not carry any special weightage or decisive value which a final year examination used to carry in the erstwhile education system, as the evaluation is done on a cumulative assessment of all semesters in a degree course.”

The Union further highlights that as per the provisions of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016 makes it clear that the power to take decisions regarding the conduct of examinations and conferring degrees rests upon the respective State Universities and not upon the UGC.

As per the Disaster Management Act, 2005, not only the State Government, but even the State Disaster Management Authority constituted under section 14 and/or the State Executive Committee constituted under Section 20 of the Act of 2005 are legally competent to take a decision in this behalf.

The Union further submits that the power to take decisions regarding conduct of examinations and conferring of degrees rests with the respective State Universities, and as such the UGC does not have the authority to grant/withold degrees of students, when the State Governments and Vice Chancellors of Universities have after considering all the exigencies of the current situation made a unanimous decision to confer degrees without holding the final year examinations.

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ, had on August 10, 2020, sought a reply on whether the Disaster Management Act can override the UGC’s guidelines and posted the matter for further hearing on August 14, 2020.

Maharashtra, in it’s affidavit, has mentioned that after deliberating on the issue at length, the State Disaster Management Authority constituted under the  Disaster Management Act, 2005 took the decision of not holding the last year final semester examinations for both professional and non-professional courses.

NCT of Delhi has submitted that the Deputy Chief Minister/Higher and Technical Education Minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi has all Delhi State Universities to cancel all written online/offline semester examinations including final year examinationsUniversities have also been advised to devise alternative assessment measures to promote students of intermediary semesters and grant degrees to students of final semesters.

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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All India Students Association has moved a letter petition on behalf of over 800 students seeking suo moto congnizance of Supreme Court against the direction of CBSE to conduct the compartment examination amidst COVID-19 crisis.

The petition highlights that as per the CBSE Class X and XII results declared last month, around 150198 Class X students and around 87651 Class XII students were placed in the category of compartment full subject.

When approached the Supreme Court, the students were asked to make representation before CBSE and upon doing so, CBSE, on August 6, 2020, without taking account of the present health crisis, provided for conduct of compartment exams.

Terming the said decision of CBSE to be in sheer violation of right to health which is part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the petition submits that the conduct of compartment examination will expose the examinees to a great risk. The conduct of offline exam will entail students to travel from one place to another which will further involve the risk of shared accommodation, use of public transport, etc. The petition states that the conduct of examination will also increase the risk of the parents, teachers, staff members, etc being exposed to the virus.

Regarding conduct of online exam, the petition submits that the same will be against the interest of students who do not have proper access to internet/laptops/personal computers.

The petition also highlights that CBSE has not given any clarity yet on neither the date of the compartment exam nor the mode of conduct. Many colleges are about to close admissions, which will adversely affect the careers of lacs of students who will be deprived entrance into the Institutions of their choice.

It is also submitted that the decision of the CBSE is itself flawed as it is against the MHA Unlock III guideline dated 29.07.2020, which provides that the schools, colleges and educational institutions will remain closed. The petition also states that many states have cancelled the conduct of examinations considering the exponential growth in the number of COVID-19 cases.

It further brings to Court’s notice that the Ramesh Pokhriyal, Minister of Higher Education stated yesterday that yet there is no date fixed for reopening schools and the safety of the students is a primary concern. When there is no deadline for opening of schools, how can the students be then expected to appear for compartment examination in the current situation.

The students, in their petition, state that they are not contending the importance of exams but are seeking appropriate direction of the Court only till the situation normalises. They have urged the Court to stay CBSE decision till the situation normalises. They also pray that steps for alternative system of evaluation be formulated and that provisional passing certificates may be given to the students until COVID-19 situation normalises, so that the students are not deprived of admission to colleges.

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Supreme Court: After the States of Maharashtra and NCT of Delhi submitted before the Court that they have cancelled the final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the University Grants Commission (UGC) told the Court that the students can’t get a degree if the exams are not conducted.

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ sought a reply on whether the Disaster Management Act can override the UGC’s guidelines and posted the matter for further hearing on August 14, 2020.

Maharashtra, in it’s affidavit, has mentioned that after deliberating on the issue at length, the State Disaster Management Authority constituted under the  Disaster Management Act, 2005 took the decision of not holding the last year final semester examinations for both professional and non-professional courses.

NCT of Delhi has submitted that the Deputy Chief Minister/Higher and Technical Education Minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi has all Delhi State Universities to cancel all written online/offline semester examinations including final year examinations. Universities have also been advised to devise alternative assessment measures to promote students of intermediary semesters and grant degrees to students of final semesters.

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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Supreme Court: The Government of NCT of Delhi has filed the affidavit in the plea challenging the conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis and has said that it took the decision to cancel the conduct of examinations as

“In such peculiar circumstances, the students did not get the kind of preparation needed to attempt a full-fledged examination.”

The Affidavit states that best efforts were made to conduct online classes in Universities, but the reality of our digital divide is that online classes are not accessible equally by all. It further states that the completion of the teaching-learning process is fundamental to the conduct of regular examinations.

“During this extremely tough period, regular physical classes got completely interrupted. The students had no access to study material and the college libraries were closed, although getting access through online mode.”

Narinder Passi, Director of Higher Education, filing the affidavit on behalf of Delhi, stated that Deputy Chief Minister/Higher and Technical Education Minister of the National Capital Territory of Delhi had, in his decision dated 11.07.2020, asked all Delhi State Universities to cancel all written online/offline semester examinations including final year examinations. Universities were also advised to devise alternative assessment measures to promote students of intermediary semesters and grant degrees to students of final semesters. Vice chancellors of few Universities were, however, of the view that final semester exams should still be conducted, even if other semester exams were cancelled.

Submitting the status of the conduct of examinations in the State, the Director of Higher Education states that while GGSIP University and Delhi Pharmaceutical Science and Research University are devising mechanism for assessment to award marks to final year students, the other six Universities have completed the final year Examination by online mode.

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.

The Court is set to hear the matter tomorrow i.e. on August 10, 2020.


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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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COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: In the Counter Affidavit filed by the University Grants Commission in the plea challenging the conduct of final year exams amidst COVID-19 crisis, the UGC has defended it’s Revised guidelines dated 06.07.2020 and has 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.”

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ had, on 27.07.2020, sought response from University Grants Commission (UGC) on a batch of petitions seeking challenging its circular and seeking cancellation of final term examination in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and had placed the matter for further hearing on July 31, 2020.

As many as 31 students from different universities across India approached the Supreme Court to quash the UGC circular dated July 6 which has asked the universities/institutions across India to conduct terminal semester(s)/final year examinations by the end of September, 2020 in offline/online/blended mode.

The students, in their petition, urged that the exams should be canceled and the results of such students should be calculated on the basis of their internal assessment or past performance. The petition filed by students from 13 states and one union territory requested that the students’ marksheets should be issued before July 31.

Another petition on the issue, filed in the Supreme Court by final year law student Yash Dubey, also sought cancellation of UGC mandated final year exams. Shiv  Sena leader Aditya Thackeray has also moved the Supreme court on behalf of Yuva Sena, the youth wing of Shiv Sena, against the mandated final year exams in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases.

UGC’s response to the Petition

UGC has, in it’s affidavit, stated that it’s Guidelines dated 06.07.2020, have been issued to protect the academic future of the students across the country which will be irreparably damaged if their final year/terminal semester examinations are not held. It says that it had done so while keeping the health and safety of the students in mind.

Regarding the decisions of certain State Governments to cancel the Final Year exams, UGS has 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.

The affidavit also states that UGC has, in it’s Guidelines dated 06.07.2020, taken account of the evolving situation of COVID-19 by not only providing adequate time for the conduct of examinations but also by giving flexibility on mode of conduct of exam i.e. offline/online/blended mode.

It further states that the Guidelines are based on the recommendations of experts and have been made after due deliberation by taking into account and balancing all factors. The affidavit states that it is wrong to say that students will be “forced” to appear for the examinations at the cost of their health as the Guidelines provides for examination through special chance i.e. in case a student of terminal semester/ final year is unable to appear in the examination conducted by the university for whatsoever the reasons may be, he/she may be given opportunity to appear in special examinations for such courses/ papers, which may be conducted by the university as and when feasible, so that the student is not put to any inconvenience.

On CBSE and ICSE’s decision to cancel Board examinations, UGC, in it’s affidavit states that the nature of those examinations is very different from Final Year/Terminal semester examinations which will have a lasting and indelible effect on the academic credibility, career opportunities and future of the students. It also highlighted the fact that ICSE has made clear that students are not exempt from the examinations will have to appear in November, 2020 examinations.

Rejoinder by Students

Final Year Student Yash Dubey, who has also sought challenged the Revised Guidelines, 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),…”

He further submits that the Revised UGC Guidelines are in complete deviation from the 29.04.2020 UGC Guideline, wherein it was clearly stated that it is advisory in nature and that each University may chart out its own plan of action taking into consideration the issues pertaining to COVID-19 pandemic. The Rejoinder states,

“…while passing the Revised Guidelines, the UGC has itself failed to consider the 29.04.2020 Guidelines, which provided flexibility to the Universities to implement the Guidelines in the best interest of students.”

On the conduct of online examinations, the Student states that in view of the current difficulties that our country is facing, it is quite unrealistic to justify the reasoning of conduction of virtual examination by relying on examples of the premier institutions of the world. While relying on the examples of the premier institutes as a basis for conduction of examination in our country, the Respondent fails to take into consideration that these institutes/colleges/universities (as cities) are largely accommodative of student’s concern and therefore this cannot be the basis to justify the decision regarding the compulsory conduct of examination.

It further states that the revised UGC Guidelines are taking the students backward rather than forward. Looking at the rising curve of COVID-19 cases, in the country, it is quite unrealistic to set a deadline for compulsory conduct of examination.

“It fails to take into consideration the loss that is being caused to thousands of students who have received a preplacement offer or who have secured post graduate admission in certain prestigious universities of the world. It can work as a factor which might lead to loss of jobs, loss of secured admission and in some cases loss of an academic year.”

The rejoinder also stresses on the point that the UGC has failed to consider that most of the educational institutions/Universities/colleges  have been converted into quarantine centre and the conduction of the examination, in this testing time, is a threat to the life and health of thousands of students.


Read the details of UGC’s revised guidelines on conduct of final year exams here


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