Students must start exam preparations: UGC tells SC

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Students should continue with their preparation for the final-year university examinations scheduled to be held by the end of September 30 and should not harbour any misconception that the Supreme Court will stay them, the University Grants Commission (UGC) told the top court on Friday.

UGC was defending its July 6 directive asking universities across the country to hold final-year or final-semester examinations by the end of September.

“My request is that nobody should remain under the impression the final exams will be stayed because the Supreme Court is hearing the case. Students should continue to prepare for the exams,” solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for UGC, said.

The Supreme Court was hearing a batch of petitions by several students and organisations challenging the guidelines issued by UGC on July 6 to hold final-year examinations by September 30.

A student who was found to be Covid-19 positive was one of the petitioners, asking for the exams to be cancelled in view of the pandemic. The Shiv Sena’s youth wing, Yuva Sena, was also a petitioner before the Court.

The petitioners have urged the apex court to consider scrapping online/offline tests, and instead direct UGC to declare results by July 31 based on students’ past performance or internal assessment.

During the hearing of the case on Friday, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the petitioners, said the states of Maharashtra and Delhi have already decided to cancel final-year exams in view of the Covid-19 situation.

The UGC, too, highlighted this fact in its affidavit filed before the top court on Thursday, stating that the decision by the two states was contrary to the UGC guidelines.

The bench headed by justice Ashok Bhushan asked Maharashtra and Delhi to submit their response to the same. The case will be taken up for hearing next on August 10.

“All universities/institutions in the country are obligated to conduct terminal semester/ final year examination by the end of September 2020. The UGC took the decision to protect the academic future of students across the country while also keeping in mind their health and safety,” the UGC affidavit stated.

UGC also submitted that its guidelines were issued based on the recommendations by an expert committee headed by Central University of Haryana vice-chancellor RC Kuhad.

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