The Supreme Court on Thursday stated that the plea(s) challenging UGC Guidelines dated July 6, whereby all the Universities/ Colleges have been instructed to conduct final year Examinations by September 30, 2020 will be taken up by a Justice Ashok Bhushan led bench in the next two days.
A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao & Hemant Gupta took note of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta's submission that a Justice Ashok Bhushan led bench had already dismissed a similar plea filed by the Yuva Sena on July 18.
Advocate Dhruv Mehta also mentioned the final year law student Yash Dubey's plea which also sought cancellation of UGC mandated final year exams before the bench.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs had permitted the conduct of exams by Universities and Institutions vide notification dated July 6, 2020 and had ordered the Universities to compulsorily conduct examination of final year students as per UGC guidelines and Standard Operating Procedure.
Senior Advocate Dhruv Mehta mentioned another petition seeking a similar prayer, filed by a Law Student quashing the Notification and revised guidelines respectively, calling for compulsory conduction of Final Term Examinations amid the pandemic situation
The Petitioners, including a Covid positive student pointed out that there are many final year students, who themselves or their family members are COVID positive.
"Forcing such students to appear in the final year University Examination on 30.09.2020, is flagrantly violative of their Right to Life, as enshrined within Article 21 of Constitution of India," they have submitted.
In furtherance of the aforementioned notification, UGC has issued revised guidelines for University examination for terminal semester students whereby it instructed Universities to conduct exams in offline (pen & paper)/ online/ blended (offline + online) mode.
Filed through Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, the plea asserts that usually marksheets/ degrees are awarded to the students by 31st of July. In the present case however, the examinations will be wrapped up by September 30.
"Due to such belated award of marksheets/ degrees, the Petitioners herein and many other final year students will be deprived from precious opportunities of getting admission in higher courses and/or getting jobs, which will be again violative of Article 14," they apprehend.
It is thus submitted that final year students should also be placed at par with the students of CBSE, ICSE, ISC, NIOS etc. that cancelled their 10th/ 12th Board Examinations due to COVID-19 pandemic and declared results on the basis of "past performance/ internal assessment" of students.
On this note, they sought for a direction to the UGC to complete internal assessment and award final results/ degrees to the successful final year students, on or before July 31, 2020.
Other grievances raised by the Petitioners include:
Decision to conduct final year examination, was taken by the Respondents in utterly arbitrary and whimsical manner, even without consulting other stakeholders, like Doctors, Teachers, Students, Universities and Colleges etc. and thus the entire genesis of the said Decision, is erroneous and misplaced.
The Respondents have ignored the plight of lakhs of students belonging to Bihar, Assam and North Eastern States, which are presently witnessing incessant flood
There is no free movement of Railways and only a selected number of Trains are operating. In such a situation, a student who has to travel to his/ her Examination Centre through public Transport, will have to face immense difficulty.
Lot of difficulties in getting rented/ PG accommodations across India, as Landlords are unwilling to give such accommodation now a days, due to COVID-19 outbreak.
Parents of the affected students are facing utmost financial distress due to reduced financial opportunities amid COVID-19 crisis. In such a situation, further burdening them with the cost of Transportation, Accommodation and Medical Treatment of their wards, for appearing in the captioned examination, is utterly unjust, unfair and unwarranted.
On a related note, the Bombay High Court recently issued notices to the State of Maharashtra, University Grants Commission and Bar Council of India in a PIL filed by a law student seeking cancellation of final year examinations during the ongoing pandemic of Covid-19.