Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Dr. Dhanraj R. Mane, Director of Higher Education has filed the affidavit on behalf os 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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Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench of Aravind Kumar and M.I. Arun, JJ., addressed the matter wherein the notification issued by the Karnataka Examination Authority was questioned and stay on the same was sought.

What does the KEA Notification says?

KEA had issued the Time Table for conducting Common Entrance Test-2020 on 30-07-2020, 31-07-2020 and 01-08-2020.

High Court’s decision, dated 28-07-2020:

“During the last two weeks, everyday, more than 5,000 COVID-19 positive cases are being detected in the State and more than 2,000 cases are being detected in the city of Bengaluru. It is reported that more than 5,000 areas in the city of Bengaluru have been declared as containment zones apart from the containment zones in the other cities.

SOP of the State Government dated 17th April 2020 clearly lays down that no one is allowed to leave the containment zones. Moreover, the public transport will not be available. It is also contended that some students from other States will also be appearing for CET. It is true that the petitioners have approached the Court belatedly. However, there is a drastic change in the situation everyday. We, therefore, direct the State Government to immediately reconsider the decision of holding CET considering the aforesaid aspects.

The State Government shall place its decision on record tomorrow (29th July 2020).”

Petitioners proposed that the CET-2020 examination would result in pushing the candidates to the risk of COVID-19 and they being infected and students as well as their parents who are in the containment zones would not be permitted to come out of their homes as it would be contrary to the Standard Operating Procedure issued.

Bench on perusal of the facts and circumstances of the matter, cleared that it is not expressing or opining the cancellation or postponement of the CET-2020 examination.

In accordance to the SOP extended for conducting the CET-2020 examination, separate rooms have been provided for COVID-19 positive candidates and it is also stated that the candidates should inform COVID-19 status to the examination authorities well in advance.

Candidates have also been asked to produce a certificate certifying them that they are fit to write the examinations.

Court observes that it cannot lose sight of the fact that more than 1,84, 368 students have already downloaded the hall tickets for attending the examination scheduled to commence from 30-07-2020 which clearly indicates their interest and preparedness of the students who did not approach the Court.

Bench, however, made it clear that on no ground whatsoever, a candidate shall be prevented from attending the examination scheduled to be held from 30-07-2020 and all logistic support shall be extended by the State to ensure such of the candidates who require medical attention, transportation, food and other facilities.

Transportation to Candidates

State shall also ensure that all necessary instructions and information is issued to the authorities for ensuring that no candidate and/or parents and guardians accompanying them are prevented from proceeding from their place of residence/stay to examination centre on account of same being contaminated zone or otherwise.

On case to case basis State shall also provide transportation to candidates who may be in need of such transportation.

If a candidate fails to furnish that he/she is fit to write the examination, then the same can be a ground to prohibit them from taking up the examination.

Executive Director, Sri Venkata Raja submitted that the SOP would be uploaded to the web portal of Karnataka Examination Authority. [Abdulla Mannan Khan v. State of Karnataka, WP No. 8916 of 2020, decided on 29-07-2020]


Also Read:

Breaking | Karnataka HC denies to stall Karnataka Common Entrance Test (KCET); CET to be conducted as scheduled

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has 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. The Court has directed that counter affidavit be filed within 3 days and has placed the matter for hearing on July 31, 2020.

According to ANI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the UGC, told the court that there are 818 universities out of which 209 universities have already conducted examination (online or offline) and 394 others are planning to conduct the same. He said that the UGC has given options like online, offline, and both for conducting exams and added that government guidelines are there as per which not more than 10 students per room are allowed for the exams.

During the hearing advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, appearing for one of the petitioners, told the bench that today 50,000 COVID-19 cases have been registered and added that the UGC guidelines need to be stayed till the petitions are pending in the Supreme Court.

The court was hearing a petition filed by as many as 31 students from different universities across India seeking to quash the UGC circular dated July 6 whereby all universities all across India have been asked to wrap up the final term examinations before September 30.

[Praneeth K v. University Grants COmmission, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 602 , order dated 27.07.2020]

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


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Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Agreeing to hear the pleas challenging the University Grants Commission (UGC) circular and seeking cancellation of final year examination in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the bench of L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta, JJ has listed the matter on July 27, 2020 before a Bench presided over by
Justice Ashok Bhushan.

The matter was listed before a bench presided over by Justice Bhushan after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that a bench led by Justice Bhushan had already dismissed a similar plea on July 18.

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.

According to ANI, one of the students, among the 31 petitioners, has tested positive for COVID-19 and prayed for directions to the UGC to adopt the CBSE model and conduct an examination at a later date for the students who are not satisfied with the marks awarded on the basis of the assessment.

“… the planned examinations be canceled in the interest of justice for the students as the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise.”

Another petition on the issue, filed in the apex 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 apex 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.

[Praneeth K v. University Grants COmmission, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 592 , order dated 23.07.2020]

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


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COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

“Conducting pan-India examinations in the midst of the novel pandemic would be equivalent to turning a blind eye to the interests and genuine concerns of the student fraternity, besides putting the country at a far greater risk by making this a potential reason for a possible community spread.”

A final year student has written to the Chief Justice of India Justice SA Bobde asking him to take suo-moto cognizance in the issue involving the conduct of final year examinations as directed by the University Grant Commission. The letter attempts to bring into the attention of the Court, the concern over the safety of millions of final year students and their families, invigilators, evaluators, transport authorities, support staff and several other key stakeholders, either directly or indirectly, involved in the examination process.

The letter written by Anshritha Rai, a final year student of ILS Law College, Pune, states that though the UGC has provided universities the option to conduct exams in either an offline (pen and paper) or online or blended (offline ­+ online) mode, no matter which mode is adopted, there are a myriad number of practical, technological and institutional difficulties that are sure to be encountered.

“Online mode of examinations, however, neglects socio-economic diversity and inequality of internet access. Likewise, holding physical examinations has its own glaring set of shortcomings.”

It further highlights that a large section of students reside either indifferent parts of India or in other countries. Mandating terminal semester examinations would compel these students to travel inter-state amid the virus, share rooms with other students, make arrangements for food and undergo quarantine before appearing for examinations.

“More worryingly, students and all others connected with the conduct of such exams could be potential carriers of the virus thereby posing a serious health hazard to all those that they come in contact with in the process of reaching exam centres.”

The letter also mentions that soon after the UGC Guidelines were released, the Maharashtra Government unequivocally reiterated its inability to hold final year examinations in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Moreover, UGC itself has cancelled all intermediate examinations. UGC’s guidelines, which mandatorily require final year students to appear for examinations by September end, is arbitrary and in blatant disregard of the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution.

“It is highly regretful that an arbitrary distinction is being drawn between intermediate and final year students. If this exercise were to be carried out, the lives of all final year students pan India would be put in grave peril. This is evinced by the recent Karnataka SSLC exam fiasco where 32 students tested positive.”

Stating that the crisis has the potential for reforming our education system, the student states,

“The unabated focus on mandating university exams and sticking to traditional patterns is indicative of the flaws in our higher education system. Our strict examination-oriented culture has frequently come under fire for failing to develop practical skills and critical reasoning. Credibility and intellectual prowess has little to or has no connection with examination grades.”


Read the full text of the letter here

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

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

A final year law student from Indore has written a letter to the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court raising concern over the consequential threat on the lives of millions of students by the order of University Grants Commission regarding compulsory conduct of final term examination. The letter also seeks to draw the attention of the Chief Justice towards the impassive levying of fee by the colleges and universities even in the times of great crisis not only in Indian economy but also in the global market.

Avni Jain, a final year law student of Department of Law, PIMR, Indore, through her letter, brought to the Court’s notice that despite of the announcement by the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister that the final year students shall be marked according to their highest performance in the previous year examination, the University Grants Commission, on 6th July 2020, ordered the compulsory conduct of final year examination by the end of September, 2020 in offline (pen & paper)/ online/ blended (online + offline) mode. She termed this Notification to be in violation of Article 21 and said forcing students to give offline exams is in absolute violation of fundamental right to life enshrined under Article 21 of Indian Constitution.

Regarding offline exams, Avni states in the letter,

“If the college or university conducts online exams the students are exposed to the myriads of problems which might arise in an online examination like unstable internet connection, crashing of computers and laptops, electricity power cuts etc. Further giving online exams would be impossible for students who do not have personal computers or laptops. These are some serious issues which must be taken into account before asking students to sit for online examination.”

The letter also highlights the concern over the conduct of ‘special exams’ and states that the said order is highly uncertain as no one knows when this pandemic ends and when would it become feasible for universities to conduct these special exams.UGC in its order has provided that the final year students who are unable to appear in the examination “may be given opportunity to appear in the special examination which may be conducted by university as and when feasible”.

“By reason of these uncertainties students are unable to plan further course of action as without a degree students are unable to get the jobs, they wouldn’t get admission for higher studies, they wouldn’t be able to sit in competitive exams and eventually it’ll make students to lose their entire academic year. These facts are causing massive impact on mental condition of students.”

The letter further draws the attention towards the practice of impassive levying of fee by the various colleges and universities even in the times of great crisis not only in Indian economy but also in the global market.

“It is pertinent to mention here that in view of the Covid 19 induced lockdown, several parents have undergone substantial pay cuts and even layoffs. It is extremely difficult for a large section of the students to even pay their tuition fee, still several colleges in Madhya Pradesh without any empathy towards student community are charging them for the expenses which never incurred due to lockdown like – Infrastructure/development fee, library fee, Internet fee, Co-curricular activities fee, other fee and so on.”

The letter goes on to state that if the college conducts online exams then students are required to buy own computers/laptops and pay for personal internet connection. Therefore charging thousands of rupees in the name of examination form fee is not justifiable and is arbitrary and unreasonable.


Read the full text of the letter here.

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

Hot Off The PressNews

A final year student has written to the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court raising concerns over the guidelines issued by UGC on July 6, 2020 which allowed the Universities/ Institutions to conduct terminal semester(s)/final year examinations by the end of September, 2020 in offline/online/blended mode.

The letter written by Anshritha Rai raises concerns of the safety of millions of final year students and their families, invigilators, evaluators, transport authorities, support staff and several other key stakeholders, either directly or indirectly, involved in the examination process.

Highlighting the plight of the large section of students that reside either in different parts of India or in other countries, the letter reads,

“UGC has provided universities the option to conduct exams in either an offline (pen and paper) or online or blended (offline ­+ online) mode. Online mode of examinations, however, neglects socio-economic diversity and inequality of internet access. Likewise, holding physical examinations has its own glaring set of shortcomings. Whether the offline or online or blended mode is adopted, there are a myriad number of practical, technological and institutional difficulties that are sure to be encountered.”

The letter also highlights that the cases in India are rising exponentially and as on date, there are easily over 7,60,000 cases. As per AIIMS data, India could witness a peak in COVID-19 cases as late as in mid-November. 

It further states that soon after the UGC Guidelines were released, the Maharashtra Government unequivocally reiterated its inability to hold final year examinations in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Moreover, UGC itself has cancelled all intermediate examinations. UGC’s guidelines, which mandatorily require final year students to appear for examinations by September end, is arbitrary and in blatant disregard of the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution.

“It is highly regretful that an arbitrary distinction is being drawn between intermediate and final year students. If this exercise were to be carried out, the lives of all final year students pan India would be put in grave peril. This is evinced by the recent Karnataka SSLC exam fiasco where 32 students tested positive.”

Rai, in her letter, also states that there is a need for reforming the education system. She states,

“The unabated focus on mandating university exams and sticking to traditional patterns is indicative of the flaws in our higher education system. Our strict examination-oriented culture has frequently come under fire for failing to develop practical skills and critical reasoning. Credibility and intellectual prowess has little to no connection with examination grades.”

By way of this letter, the student has requested the Chief Justice to resolve the issue of terminal examinations and to bring much needed clarity about the evaluation method.


Read the full text of the letter here

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

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

UGC Revised Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the Universities in view of COVID-19 Pandemic

Highlights of the guidelines are as under:

  • In view of the emerging situation related to COVID-19 pandemic in India, it is important to safeguard the principles of health, safety, fair and equal opportunity for students. At the same time, it is very crucial to ensure academic credibility, career opportunities and future progress of students globally. Academic evaluation of students is very important milestone in any education system. The performance in examination gives confidence and satisfaction to the students and is a reflection of competence, performance and credibility that is necessary for global acceptability.
  • Terminal semester(s)/final year examinations be conducted by the universities/institutions by the end of September, 2020 in offline/online/blended mode.
  • Students of terminal semester/final year students having backlog should compulsorily be evaluated by conducting examinations in offline/blended/online mode as per feasibility and suitability.
  • 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. The above measure is a one-time measure for academic session: 2019-2020.
  • Guidelines as notified on 29th April, 2020 for intermediate semester/year examination will remain unchanged.

[Source: ANI]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Passing final order in the CBSE cancellation of CBSE Board examination issue, the 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has directed that petitions pertaining to CBSE examinations pending in this Court or any other Court shall be deemed to be disposed of in terms of the proposed notification to be issued by the CBSE, after CBSE placed the draft Notification before it.

The Draft Notifications proposes to cancel the Board examinations for classes X and XII which were scheduled from 1st July to 15th, 2020. Here are the other key highlights of the Draft Notification:

  • Assessment of the performance of students in the cancelled examinations will be done based on the assessment scheme as suggested by competent committee of the CBSE for declaration of result for both class-X and class-XII.”
  • Results to be announced by July 15, 2020.
  • For Class-XII, CBSE will conduct an optional examination in the subjects whose examinations were scheduled to be conducted from 1st July to 15th July, 2020 as soon as conditions are conducive, as assessed and decided by the Central Government.

“Candidates whose results will be declared based on the assessment scheme will be allowed to appear in these optional examinations to improve their performance, if they wish so.”

  • For candidates in Class X, no further examinations will be conducted and the result declared by CBSE on the basis of assessment scheme will be treated as final.
  • For class-XII, the result declared by the CBSE on July 15, 2020 will be considered as final unless the students opt for optional examination.

The Court, further said that if any other petition is pending in the Supreme Court or any other Court concerning the subject of conducting examinations for Classes X and XII by the CBSE scheduled from 1 st July, 2020 to 15th July, 2020, the same will be governed by this order and the notification approved by this Court.

Regarding ICSE Board examinations, it was submitted before the Court that the ICSE would issue similar notification with additional aspects referred to in the affidavit filed by them. However,

“ICSE may consider of conducting optional examination for Class X as well and abide by the same terms as regards the optional examination regarding Class XII referred to in the draft notification of CBSE…”

ICSE will also notify it’s Assessment Scheme within one week from today on it’s website.

The Court, hence, ordered that all proceedings/petitions pertaining to the subject matter of conducting examinations for classes X and XII by ICSE for Academic Year 2019-2020 pending in the Supreme Court or any other Court shall be deemed to be disposed of accordingly.

[Amit Bathla v. Central Board of School Education, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 541 , order dated 26.06.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: After Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before the bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ that CBSE has cancelled the remaining class 10 and 12 Board exams, which were earlier rescheduled to be held between July 1 to July 15, the Court said that it will pass the appropriate orders in the matter tomorrow i.e. on 26.06.2020.

The Court had, on 23.06.2020, deferred the hearing in the plea filed by a group of parents after the Solicitor General told the the CBSE was in the process of taking a final decision in the matter.

Plea filed by a group of concerned parents stated that the CBSE has cancelled the examinations of Class 10 and 12 for its around 250 schools situated abroad and will be awarding marks on the basis of either practical exams or an internal assessment because of the pandemic. The parents seek to cancel the CBSE Class 10 and 12 exams in the wake of the spike in the COVID-19 positive cases in the Country.

[Amit Bathla v. Central Board of School Education, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 539 , order dated 25.06.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has deferred the hearing in the plea seeking quashing of the CBSE notification for conducting the remaining Class 10 and 12 exams from July 1 to 15, to Thursday after the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Court that 

“the expert body is in the process of taking final decision in the matter very shortly and hopefully by tomorrow i.e. 24th June, 2020.”

Plea filed by a group of concerned parents stated that  the CBSE has cancelled the examinations of Class 10 and 12 for its around 250 schools situated abroad and will be awarding marks on the basis of either practical exams or an internal assessment because of the pandemic. The parents seek to cancel the CBSE Class 10 and 12 exams in the wake of the spike in the COVID-19 positive cases in the Country.

The Court will now hear the matter on 25.06.2020 after CBSE takes a final decision in the matter.

The Court also deferred a related matter dealing with cancellation of the Indian School Certificate Examinations (ISCE) to 25.06.2020.

[Amit Bathla v. Central Board of School Education, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 537, order dated 23.06.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Bench of R.K. Deshpande and S.M. Modak, JJ., dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by various aided colleges and their teaching staff while directing that they cannot avoid the performance of election duty in the upcoming General Elections.

In exercise of powers conferred by Section 159 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the respondents called upon the petitioners to perform election duties. This action was challenged by the petitioners.

Having considered the Supreme Court decision in Election Commission of India v. St. Mary’s School, (2008) 2 SCC 390, the High Court reiterated that the teaching staff cannot be called upon to perform election duty on working days. However,, in the present case, University examinations were rescheduled, and thus the petitioners could be conveniently called to perform election duties on the day of polling and one day before and after the day of polling. Holding that teaching staff cannot avoid the performance of election duty, and the failure thereof may attract disciplinary action, the High Court dismissed the petitions. [Shri Gadge Maharaj Mahavidyalaya v. Election Commission of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 600, dated 04-04-2019]

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

G.S.R. 287(E) — 1. Under Rule 5 (i) and (ii) of Order IV, Supreme Court Rules, 2013 and Regulation 2 of the Regulations regarding Advocates-on-Record Examination made thereunder governing the Examination for Advocates-on-Record, it is hereby notified for the information of all concerned that the next Examination for the Advocates-on-Record will be held in the Supreme Court Premises, New Delhi on 3rd, 4th, 7th & 8th June, 2019.

2. All Advocates who will be completing one year’s continuous training on or before 30th April, 2019 are eligible to appear for the aforesaid examination.

3. Applications should reach the Secretary, Board of Examiners, by 22nd April, 2019. The application forms may be obtained from the office of the Secretary on any working day during office hours. No application shall be accepted after 22nd April, 2019.

4. Acceptance of the application is subject to production of requisite certificate of training from an Advocate-on-Record under Regulation 6 of the Regulations regarding Advocates-on-Record Examination.

5. A list of leading Cases with regard to Paper-IV ‘Leading Cases’ is appended to this Notification as Annexure ‘A’.

6. Under Regulation 12 of the Regulations regarding Advocates-on-Record Examination, no application/representation for re-evaluation of answer sheets shall be entertained. Application/representation seeking relief other than in the nature of re-evaluation shall not be entertained beyond a period of 30 days from the date of declaration of the result.

7. In the ensuing examination those who are given roll numbers and who absent themselves in any individual examination paper(s) will be treated as not sufficiently prepared for the examination and will be dealt with under Regulation 5(b) without giving them any further opportunity, and they shall not be permitted to sit for the examination in the year 2020 except for good reason and with the permission of the Chairman of the Board of Examiners.

8. Under Regulation 11 (iii) of the Regulations regarding Advocates-on-Record Examination, a candidate who fails in all the papers of the examination shall not be permitted to appear in the next examination. The candidates, who do not appear in all the papers and fail in the papers in which they have appeared, shall be treated to have failed in all the papers including the papers they have not appeared.

9. Under Regulation 11 (iv) of the Regulations regarding Advocates-on-Record Examination, a candidate shall not be allowed more than five chances to appear at the examination. Appearance even in any one of the papers in an examination shall be deemed to be a chance.

[F. No. AOR Exam/June/2019]

[Notification dt. 01-04-2019]

Supreme Court of India

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal: The Bench of S.V.S. Rathore, J. and Air Marshal BBP Sinha (Member) allowed the application filed by a member of Indian Army’s Electronics and Mechanical Engineers Corps, directing grant of disability pension to him.

Applicant herein was enrolled in the Indian Army and discharged from service in ‘low medical category’. The Release Medical Board (RMB) located at Base Hospital, Lucknow assessed his disabilities as: (i) ‘Obesity’ at nil percentage which was ‘Neither Attributable to Nor Aggravated’ (NANA) by military service; and (ii) ‘Primary Hypertension’ at 30 per cent for two years which was found to be aggravated due to stress and strain of military service. 

The applicant filed an application for a disability pension with the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions), Allahabad – PCDA (P) – but the same was rejected without carrying out his physical examination, by declaring his disease of hypertension as NANA. Aggrieved thereby, the instant application was preferred under Section 14 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.

The Court relied on the judgment in Ex. Sapper Mohinder Singh v. Union of India, Order dated 14-01-1993 in Civil Appeal No. 104 of 1993, where it was held that medical board’s decision cannot be overruled by a higher chain of command without physical medical examination of the patient. In view thereof, the decision of PCDA (P), Allahabad declaring the second disability of hypertension as NANA was set aside, and it was held that the applicant was entitled to a disability pension at 30 per cent for two years.[Hav Raj Bhan Singh v. Union of India, Original Application No. 700 of 2017, Order dated 18-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Ajay Bhanot, J. dismissed the petition by stating that one illegality cannot be weighed on the illegality of some other individual.

The petitioner through his counsel Awadhesh Prasad has contended that he was not allowed to appear for the examination in the respondent university as his attendance was 38% and not the minimum set by the university which was 80% but that was not the point of his contention. He submits that one Prateek Singh with 30% attendance was permitted to appear in the examination having attendance less than him.

The Court was of the view that one illegality cannot become the basis for another illegality. An individual has to succeed on the footing of his own rights and cannot base his claim on illegality committed by an authority to favour another person. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. [Prince Namdev v. State Of U.P.,2018 SCC OnLine All 3109, Order dated 18-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: The High Court of Punjab and Haryana decided on the matter arising before it from a civil suit pending before the Court of Civil Judge (Junior Division), Samrala, the issue whether Sucha Singh (petitioner witness), who was residing at USA, can be allowed to be examined by way of Video Conferencing.

The Court vide order dated 16.10.2015 passed in CR 6571 of 2014 allowed the same stating that the witness can be confronted with the documents with close proximity to the camera. Petitioner was given liberty to choose a public authority where such facility was available and inform the Court. Alternatively, the petitioner was given option to identify the Indian Consulate in the nearest place from his residence and produce the Court order to secure the permission for hearing. The petitioner was to make himself available during the court working hours in India and give a date which is mutually convenient to the Court and the Consulate or the Public Office.

The Court was of the view that the evidence of the petitioner was very material and therefore his evidence was required to be recorded. However, noticing the difference of time between India and USA, the Court was of the opinion that approaching the Public Authority at night time to allow video conferencing facility was unfeasible. The Court opined that as video conferencing is now available through many applications like Facetime, Whatsapp, Skype etc. there is no necessity of approaching the nearest Consulate.

The Court allowed examination of the petitioner by way of video conferencing through Mobile or Computer on an application, and the time and date of the same would be communicated to the trail court. The witness is to be identified by the opposite party or any other person nominated by them. The Court further ordered supply of photocopy of any document which is sought to be put to the witness in advance to the opposite party and witness himself, so that he may answer on the said document. [Sucha Singh v. Ajmer Singh, 2018 SCC OnLine P&H 637, order dated 17-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A  Division Bench comprising of Joymalya Bagchi and Ravi Krishan Kapur, JJ.  disposed of the criminal appeal filed by the appellant by ordering his further examination under Section 313 CrPC.

In the case at hand, most of the prosecution witnesses turned hostile. However, the trial judge relied on the dying declaration of the victim, who, according to PW 15- the doctor who treated the victim, had suffered burn injuries due to the pouring of hot mustard oil. Learned counsel for the appellant was before the High Court assailing the said dying declaration on various grounds including that such circumstance was not placed before the appellant during his examination under Section 313 CrPC.

The High Court perused the record and found that in fact such circumstance was not put to the appellant during his examination. The Court held it to be settled law that any circumstance which may be used against an accused must be placed to him during his examination under Section 313. Such an exercise is not an empty formality but a facet of natural justice. While deciding the appeal, the Court was not unmindful of the fact that every infraction of the aforesaid requirement would not vitiate the trial. However, if such infraction is of a grave nature, and prejudices the accused or occasions failure of justice, it shall result in a mistrial. In the instant case, the Court noted, most of the PWs turned hostile, and as such, the dying declaration if believed by the court, would be the most vital circumstance pointing towards guilt of the appellant. In such circumstances, the Court ordered the further examination of the appellant under Section 313 by putting questions before him in relation to the dying declaration. The Sessions Judge was directed to complete the exercise within four weeks. [Sk. Anowar v. Moinak Bakshi, 2018 SCC OnLine Cal 3896, dated 22-6-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): In a landmark case CIC held that a candidate can seek answer sheets of other candidates and that this is not marred by Section 8(1)(e) and Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act. However, it is subject to Sections 3 and 6.

The departmental examination which was conducted to decide the promotion on the job for the post of EO/AO comprised of four papers, out of which three were objective and one was descriptive in nature. Since the fourth paper was descriptive, no model answers were prepared. Around 3,000 candidates appeared in the exam out of which only 5 candidates were selected and this appellant was qualified but was not in the final list of four selected candidates as there were only four vacancies while the appellant stood at Number 5. Appellant wanted model answers for the Fourth Question paper also. The public authority has disclosed the questions and answers of all the candidates regarding three papers but refused to give four answer-sheets of four qualified candidates to the appellant. The appellant claimed that he wanted to check the answers given by four who topped above him and where he lacked in and if he was really ineligible to secure promotion.

The legality of demanding answer sheet in the examination is in principle upheld by the Supreme Court in CBSE v. Aditya Bandhopadhyay, (2011) 8 SCC 497 provided that the request is made during a reasonable time in which the authorities are expected to retain the answer scripts. SC held that answer book also does not fall under any of the exemption provided under (a) to (j) of sub-section 1 of Section 8 of RTI Act. So, an examining body does not hold the evaluated answer books in a fiduciary relationship under Section 8(1)(e).

In Kewal Singh Gautam v. State of Chhattisgarh, AIR 2011 Chh 143, Chhattisgarh High Court held that conduct of examination by the departmental agency for promotion in Govt. department, are not private activities, but in public domain and the checking and evaluation of answer sheet by an examiner and the marks given by him upon assessment of performance has nothing to do with the privacy of either the examiner or those who are responsible for conducting the examination so Section 8 (1)(j) is not attracted.

In Centre of Earth Science Studies v. Dr. Mrs. Anson Sebastian 2010 SCC OnLine Ker 541, where one employee sought information pertaining to documents relating to domestic enquiry against another employee and also for getting entries in confidential report of six other employees of the appellant, repelling the claim of exemption under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act of 2005, the Division Bench of High Court of Kerala held that provision of Section 8(1)(j) are not attracted.

CIC analysed that in CBSE v. Aditya Bandopadhya, (2011) 8 SCC 497 the Supreme Court said no, but on certain practical issues. The CBSE pleaded that if it has to share certified copies of answer-sheets of other to each and every candidate seeking under RTI, it would lead to chaos and divert substantial resources. In UPSC v. Angesh Kumar,  (2018) 4 SCC 530,  the Court read the inherent limitation in Sections 3 and 6 as pertaining to revelation of information that is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information. The Supreme Court referred to the problems in showing evaluated answer sheets in the UPSC Civil Services Examination in Prashant Ramesh Chakkarwar v. UPSC, (2013) 12 SCC 489.

CIC observed that the most important point was that the rejection in CBSE and UPSC cases was not based on any exception under Section 8(1) including (e) & (j). CIC concluded that no such difficulty exists in the present case and the appellant was entitled to get copies of answer sheet of the four candidates who topped. [Shailendra Kumar Singh v. PIO, EPFO, CIC/EPFOG/A/2018/614958, decided on 08-06-2018]

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

G.S.R. 503(E).- In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 48 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (12 of 2017) read with sub-rule (3) of Rule 83 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Rules, 2017, the Commissioner, on the recommendations of the Council, hereby notifies the National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, as the authority to conduct the examination as per the said sub-rule.

[F. No.349/58/2017-GST(Pt.)]

Ministry of Finance