Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Hearing a series of petitions filed by Class XII students of various Boards, the bench of AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ has directed all the State Boards to formulate Schemes for assessment of the Students within 10 days.

Though the Court directed that the respective Boards are free to formulate their own Schemes being autonomous and independent bodies, it made clear that the Scheme must provide for a proper mechanism for redressal of dispute or grievance of the students after declaration of results, as has been done in the case of C.B.S.E. and I.C.S.E. Boards.

Class XII students’ evaluation scheme by CBSE and ICSE approved by Supreme Court with two additions: Here’s what we know

The Court said,

“… we are not endorsing the correctness and validity of the proposed Schemes, to be so formulated by the concerned Boards. That will be considered on its own merits, if and when occasion arises.”

The Court, hence, directed the State Boards to

“… ensure that the Schemes are formulated and notified at the earliest and not later than 10 days from today and also declare the results of internal assessment by 31.07.2021, which is the time-line specified for C.B.S.E. and I.C.S.E. Boards in terms of our order dated 22.06.2021 passed in Writ Petition(C) No. 522 of 2021.”

The aforesaid direction applies to all States but the State of Kerala which has already conducted XII standard Examination in the month of April, 2021.

[Anubha Shrivastava Sahai v. Union of India, Writ Petition(s)(Civil) No(s). 620/2021, order dated 24.06.2021]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ has refused to interfere with the assessment Scheme propounded by the C.B.S.E or I.C.S.E for the Class XII students and has held that,

“… the stated Schemes are fair and reasonable and take into account concerns of all students and is in larger public interest.”

Let’s have a look at why the Schemes and the decisions of the Boards were challenged:

Decision to cancel the Class XII examinations and declare results on the basis of internal assessment marks as propounded in the Scheme must be set aside and examination must be conducted for academic year 2020-21.

Rejected.

The Argument was rejected on the ground that the Boards have taken decision to cancel the examinations, which according to them, is in larger public interest including the body of students pursuing education with them.

“The fact that other Boards or institutions have been able to conduct examination does not necessarily mean that the Boards before us are bound by that dispensation. The Boards are autonomous Boards and are entitled to evolve their schemes independently.”

The Scheme ought to provide option at the threshold as to whether the student wants to appear in the examination for improvisation of marks, to be conducted by the concerned Board for that purpose. Further, the results of the internal assessment should be declared together with the results of such examination.

Rejected.

“… tweaking the Scheme in any manner, as propounded by the two Boards would result in denial of one option to the students and also delay the declaration of results indefinitely. There would be uncertainty until the examination for improvisation is actually conducted and results are declared.”

The Court explained that if the students are given the option of accepting the internal assessment marks, the results could be declared before 31.07.2021 and despite declaration of those results, they may still have the option of appearing in the examination for improvisation, if they so choose to.

Interestingly, somewhat similar Scheme was adopted in the previous academic year and the body of students accepted the internal assessment results. Hardly, 10 students from I.C.S.E. and 15000 from C.B.S.E. availed of the option to appear in the examination for improvisation of marks.

Past performance of three years of the students is being reckoned for internal assessment in the Scheme propounded by C.B.S.E is unfair and irrational.

Rejected.

The Court refused to take a second look at the Scheme which has been formulated by the expert body which was appointed by the Board consisting of thirteen members after taking all aspects into consideration in order to ensure that no candidate/student is prejudiced.

“… the Scheme intends to rationalize the internal assessment performance and bring semblance of parity amongst the assessment of different schools. This exercise will be undertaken by a broad-based Result Committee.”

Further, the Boards are independent and autonomous bodies and entitled to take their own decision with regard to the affairs of conducting examination by them.

The result should be declared on the same day.

Rejected.

Attorney General sumtted that U.G.C. will be issuing necessary instructions to ensure that the admission process by the colleges and institutions should commence only after the declaration of results by the C.B.S.E. and I.C.S.E., including the State Boards. Hence, ther aforementioned argument was rejected by the Court.

There is possibility of C.B.S.E. schools manipulating the records as the relevant data on the basis of which internal assessment is to be done is not in the custody or in possession of the C.B.S.E.

Rejected.

Stating that the argument was nothing but a vague apprehension, the Court took note of the Attorney General’s submission that the broad-based Result Committee would examine all aspects of the matter and take decision on the basis of registers maintained by the concerned schools, and inspected by the competent authority.

Clarification on conduct of examinations for private, patrachar and second compartment candidates

Examination will be duly conducted in which all these candidates can appear as private candidates and such examination will be conducted between 15.08.2021 to 15.09.2021 and the results would be declared at the earliest so that even these students would be in a position to pursue their further education, if they so desire.

Read the Schemes here

Class XII students’ evaluation scheme by CBSE and ICSE approved by Supreme Court with two additions: Here’s what we know

[Mamta Sharma v. CBSE, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 433, order dated 22.06.2021]


For UOI: Mr. KK Venugopal, Attorney General for India

For CBSE: Mr. Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India

For ICSE: Senior Advocate JK Das

For interveners: Senior Advocate Vikas Singh

For Petitioners: Advocates Anshul Gupta and Abhishek Choudhary

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari, JJ has accepted the schemes presented by CBSE and ICSE for assessment of students who were due to appear in the now cancelled Class XII Board exams.

The Court however, made clear that the scheme must incorporate two aspects:

(i) providing for Dispute Resolution mechanism, in case the students apply for correction of the final result declared by the concerned Boards.

(ii) the time-line to be specified for (a) declaration of the 6 result and (b) the date before which the optional examination will be conducted, subject to conducive situation and logistical constraints.

The Court also rejected the intervenor’s plea that the decision of the CBSE and the ICSE to cancel the examination be re-visited. It, however, gave time to Senior Advocate Vikas Singh to examine the scheme propounded by the concerned Boards and listed the matter on 21st June, 2021. The Court, however, made clear that

“… the concerned Boards are free to notify the final scheme on the above lines and include the two suggestions given by the Court. If any further suggestion is given by Mr. Vikas Singh, learned senior counsel, that matter can be addressed appropriately.”

Key highlights of CBSE’s Scheme

  • Due to cancellation of the Board examinations, the assessment of theory portion of 80/70/60/50/30 marks will be done by the school based on the following:

Class XII: Marks based on Unit Test/Mid-Term/Pre-Board Exam – 40 %

The computation of theory marks for class XII will be based on performance in one or more Unit Test(s)/MidTerm/Pre-Board(s) theory examination. The result committee of the school may decide weightage to be given to each exam based on the credibility and reliability of the assessment.

Class XI: Marks based on theory component of final exam -30 %

Class X: Marks based on average theory component of best three performing subjects out of main 5 subjects – 30 %

This average will be uniformly awarded to all the class XII subjects based on theory weightage. To facilitate ease in entering the theory marks of class X, the Board will provide the marks for the students who have appeared in CBSE class X examinations. For students of other Boards, the schools will have to enter the information based on the class.

  • The marks of Practical/Internal Assessment etc. of class-XII will be on actual basis as uploaded by the school on the CBSE portal.
  • The total marks awarded should be in consonance with the past performance of the school in ClassXII Board Examinations.
  • The computation of theory marks for class XII will be based on performance in one or more Unit Test(s)/MidTerm/Pre-Board(s) theory examination. The result committee of the school may decide weightage to be given to each exam based on the credibility and reliability of the assessment.
  • To ensure standardisation, each school will have to internally moderate the marks to account for the school level variations by using a reliable reference standard.
  • The historical performance of the school, in terms of the best overall performance in the previous three years’ Board examination, will be taken as the reference for moderating the marks assessed by the school for 2020-2021.
  • The subject wise marks assessed by the school for 2020-2021 should be within a range of +/- 5 marks obtained by the students in the school in the subject in the reference year. However, the overall average marks for the school assessed in 2020-2021, for all the subjects, should not exceed the overall average marks obtained by the school by 2 marks in the specific reference year.
  • Once the Result Committee finalizes the marks on the basis of tests/exams, it has to ensure that the marks of students are aligned with the broad distribution of marks provided by the Board. It may be noted that the indicated distribution has to be followed broadly and there may be some difference in terms of number of actual students in each category of the distribution than the one indicated. However, the school subject wise and overall scores should be within the limits provided.
  • Students not satisfied with the Assessment Students who are not satisfied with the assessment, done based on the policy will be given an opportunity to appear in examinations to be conducted by the board when conditions are conducive for holding the examinations. As per this policy, marks scored in later examination will be considered as final.
  • For Private, Patrachar and 2nd chance Compartment candidates etc. Examination will be conducted by the Board as and when the conditions become conducive for conduct of such examinations. The details will be notified in due course.”

Key highlights of ICSE’s Scheme

  1. The components used to arrive at the formula limited to

(i) marks percentage in class X board examinations,

(ii) the Project & Practical Work in the subjects,

(iii) the performance of the candidates in the school examinations in the subjects in classes XI and XII, measured through their best marks obtained in the two years (referred to as raw marks) and (iv) the best performance of the school in the last six years.

  1. The first factor measures the general proficiency of the candidates, the next two factors measure the subject proficiency of the candidates, while the last 5 is a measure of the general quality of the schools the candidates are appearing from.
  2. To arrive at the weights, detailed analyses were performed on the data from the past board examinations from the years 2015 to 2020.
  3. Extensive scenario analyses were done based on different subjects.

[Mamta Sharma v. CBSE, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 430, order dated 17.06.2021]


For UOI: Attorney General KK Venugopal

For CBSE: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta

For ICSE: Senior Advocate JK Das

For Intervenors: Senior Advocate Vikas Singh

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: S. Vaidyanathan, J., observed that,

“Officials adopting a tactic answer in a mechanical manner that the information sought for is exempted in the light of Section 8(1)(d) of the Act, without actually ascertaining as to whether the information sought falls within the ambit of the said provision should be shown doors.”

Petition was filed challenging the order passed by the respondent by which information sought for by the respondent was directed to be supplied free of cost within 3 weeks.

The main duty of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission is to conduct examinations and make selections to the services of the State in addition to the allied functions of extension of consultation in respect of disciplinary matters, recruitment methods, etc.

The following information was sought:

a) Total number of vacancies called for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008;

b) Number of seats allocated to the Backward Community out of the total number of vacancies called for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008;

c) Number of seats allocated to the Most Backward Community out of the total number of vacancies called for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008;

d) Out of seats allocated to the Backward Community, the list of the selected candidates from the sub-castes of Muthuraja and Muthriyar;

e) Out of seat allocated to the Most Backward Community, the list of selected candidates from the sub-castes Ambalakarar;

f) Out of seat allocated to the Most Backward Community, the list of selected candidates from Vanniya Kula Shatriar sub-castes (Vanniyar, Vanniya, Vanniya Gounder, Kandar, Padayachi Palli and Agni Kular Shathriar).”

TNPSC replied that queries. ‘d’ to ‘f’ were exempted under Section 8(1)(d) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

On being aggrieved by the above-stated reply, the respondent approached the Tamil Nadu Information Commission wherein the impugned order was passed.

TNPSC submitted that being a Constitutional Functionary, it has a moral obligation to maintain confidentiality and in the event of furnishing of the details to the respondent, it would harm the interest of the third parties and the details regarding caste-wise breakup of the selected candidates got nothing to do with the public activity and such disclosure would amount to an invasion of the privacy of individuals, apart from the creation of communal discontent and strife.

It was stated that State has stopped the sporting of the caste behind the names of persons and at the time of publication of result, TNPSC used to indicate only the Class of candidates and not otherwise. Therefore, the direction to furnish such details, issued by TNIC is highly unsustainable and untenable.

Caste-Wise Breakup

Bench on perusal of the above stated that when the selection itself is based on caste wise quota, it cannot be accepted that it would amount to the invasion of privacy.

Disclosure of caste wise breakup will certainly inure to the benefit of candidates to ascertain as to whether they actually fall under the reservation quota or not.

Further, the Court added that as long as there is a provision for appointment on the basis of reservation, which prevents the authorities from unearthing those details to the public and when the details sought for by the respondent are furnished, it will throw a clear light/picture as to under what category, a candidate was placed.

A reading of Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act shows that it relates to commercial confidence, trade secrets, etc., and it does not strictly prohibit the authority concerned from providing such details, as divulging of caste details will surely be beneficial to candidates to doubly ascertain either about their induction or rejection and as such.

Transparent View

Hence the decision of the Second Appellate Authority holding that every citizen is entitled to a transparent view of the functioning of public authorities and the trepidation shown by the Public Authority with regard to the demand of such details by others will not be ground in denying details to the public in contra to the provisions of the RTI Act.

Supreme Court’s decision in State of U.P. v. Raj Narain, (1975) 4 SCC 428 vividly discussed the power of the Court to direct production of the document and under what circumstances, a privilege can be claimed as contained under contemplated under Sections 123 and 162 of the Evidence Act.

“…While discussing the issue, it was specifically held that the people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything that is done in public way by their public functionaries.”

Mere Pendency 

Bench added that nowadays, the Officials are used to adopt a tactic answer in a mechanical manner that the information sought for is exempted in the light of Section 8(1)(d) of the Act, without actually ascertaining as to whether the information sought falls within the ambit of the said provision.

Officers using the above-said tactic should be taught a lesson as they are unfit to hold the post of Public Information Officer or any other post in connection with the discharge of duties under the RTI Act and they should be shown the doors.

Court directed TNPSC to furnish the details to the respondent within a period of 1 month. TNPSC shall also ascertain the names of the Officials who have failed to discharge their official duties as adumbrated under the RTI Act, 2005.

The compliance report for the above-stated directions has been called for on 14-10-2020. [Tamil Nadu Public Sevice Commission v. P. Muthian, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2167, decided on 7-09-2020]

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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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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COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

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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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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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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Karnataka High Court directs the State officials to conduct Karnataka Common Entrance Test (CET) exam as per the schedule. No student should be prevented for appearing the exam.

Bench denied to grant interim relief in terms of postponing or cancelling the exam, scheduled to be held on July 30, 31 and August 1, 2020.

Court in it’s yesterday’s Order had directed the Karnataka State government to reconsider the advisability of conducting the Karnataka Common Entrance Test (KCET) 2020 on July 30th, 31st and 1st August in light of the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

High Court has stated  that no Covid positive student should be denied opportunity of writing the examination just because documents are not provided. Authorities shall make sure that conditions in the SOP issued by the Union Ministry of Health and the SOP of state from time to time are scrupulously followed by all.

Authorities to provide transportation to needy students and all logistical support, especially to students and parents from containment zones.

Yesterday’s Decision

The Court passed the order after considering the pleas in three different petitions, all of which sought to have directions issued by the Court ordering the state government to postpone the CET. It was contended that considering the onslaught of the ongoing pandemic, conducting a physical examination was arbitrary and would jeopardize the health of the students, and conducting the same under these circumstances would amount to a violation of their fundamental rights under Article 14, since students in containment zones would not have equal opportunities of attending the exam resulting in a violation of their right to equality, and Article 21.

The Bench observed that more than 5000 new cases had been reported daily in the state in the past fortnight, with 1500 cases emerging daily in Bangalore alone, which has over 5000 containment zones. Since the government SOP prohibits the inhabitants of containment areas from travelling outside and considering that public transport would not be readily available either, the Bench duly noted that there would be a probability of students missing out on the exams.

*The above report has been prepared based on news reports.


Read the detailed Case brief, here:

KCET 2020 | Kar HC | No candidate shall be prevented from attending examination scheduled to be held from 30th July, 2020 [Detailed Brief]

 

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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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: While deciding the instant petitions seeking directions for the Kerala University to postpone the examinations scheduled on 1-7-2020, C.S. Dias, J.,  declined to pass an ad-interim order to stay the examinations whilst stating that scope of judicial review in the scheduling examinations is very limited.

The present petitions were filed by various students who contended that the University, regardless of UGC (Minimum Standards of instructions for the Grant of the Master’s Degree through Formal Education) Regulations, 2003, has notified the examinations. The students via their counsel George Poonthottam further argued that their study materials are left in their colleges and hostels, which have now been converted to quarantine centres; they cannot continue the research under their Guide, in view of the travel restrictions. Another petition filed by a sixth semester law student of Kerala Law Academy, submitted that a sudden call for examination would result in a large gathering of students in a single room, which will increase the chances of Covid-19 spread manifold. Furthermore the students, who have gone to their homes in other States and abroad, would have to undergo 14 days of compulsory quarantine, when they return to the State. Therefore, the call for the examination infracts the fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. However the standing counsel for the University, Thomas Abraham submitted that the University successfully conducted the examinations for undergraduate courses and that they received no adverse report on this. The students in fact responded positively to the arrangements made, particularly in view of the fact that they got accommodated to their nearby places to write the examinations. The counsel argued that a few students, forming a microscopic minority want to postpone the examinations indefinitely with an intention to thwart the examination schedule. It was argued that postponement of the examinations any further would result in a ‘situation with unimaginable ramifications’.      

Perusing the facts and contentions and referring to a plethora of Supreme Court decisions on the similar matters, the Bench observed that there should be extreme reluctance on the part of the Courts to interfere into the academic matters formulated by professional men possessing technical expertise and rich experience of actual day-to-day working of educational institutions. Referring to Maghi Devi v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 546 the Bench pointed out that the Courts should not substitute the wisdom of specialists in the field of academics. Noting that the Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, and it created situations that led to an All India Lockdown and closure of schools and colleges. The Court further observed that the Central and the State Governments have issued protocols to avert community transmission of the virus, and the same protocols are being implemented and followed strictly.

Thus declining to issue any stay order for cancellation, the Court clarified that if the exams are held as per the schedule and the petitioners appear and write the examinations, it would be without prejudice to their rights and contentions raised in the instant writ petitions. [Megha Sarkar v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 2492 , decided on 29-06-2020]