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[Students vs UGC] Odisha Govt's Concerns Over Conducting Final Year Examinations 'Unfounded': UGC Tells SC [Read Reply]

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
18 Aug 2020 5:25 AM GMT
[Students vs UGC] Odisha Govt
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The University Grants Commission has rebutted the concerns raised by the Odisha Government over conducting of final year examinations amid the pandemic.

The Commission through Advocate Apoorv Kurup, has stated that the concerns raised by the State Government in its counter affidavit are entirely "unfounded" as the Commission has "more than adequately addressed" the need for conducting final (timed) examinations.

UGC Directive To Hold Final Year Exams 'Not Implementable': Odisha Govt Tells SC

The Odisha Government had argued that even if the final year examination is conducted, its "sanctity" will be greatly compromised and that examinations should not be conducted "just for the sake of conducting it".

Responding to this, the UGC has submitted that all the universities / institutions have been given ample flexibility to conduct such examinations by various modes and means as long as the sanctity and quality of the examination process is not compromised.

In this backdrop, it is contended that the UGC has taken a "policy decision" to conduct exams, "backed by statute" and which is "in the interest of students". Therefore, the State Governments cannot be permitted to cancel the final year examinations or to graduate the students on the basis of an alternative evaluation scheme.

The matter is listed for hearing today at 11 AM, before the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, alongside a batch of similar petitions.

The State Government had also prayed that it should be allowed to implement the letter dated June 18, 2020, addressed by the Higher Education Department of the state to the Vice Chancellors and Principals of all concerned State Universities and Colleges, for adoption of an "alternative evaluation method" in respect of UG and PG Final Year/ Final Semester, 2020 students.

The UGC has contended that the letter dated June 18, 2020 is violative of the UGC Guidelines, and would impact the standards of higher education which UGC alone is mandated to maintain under the UGC Act.

Other grounds, as taken by the UGC in its previous affidavit, include:

  • the direction to hold final year examinations by September 30 was issued to "protect the academic future of students";
  • conducting examinations for final year students is necessary to test them on "specialized elective courses" studied by them during the terminal year;
  • The conduct of terminal exams is a "time-sensitive" issue and the decision was taken after due deliberations with experts following MHRD guidelines;
  • UGC Guidelines were issued by it while exercising statutory powers under Sections 12 (Functions of the Commission) read with 26 (Power to make regulations) of the UGC Act, and are binding on all Universities;
  • UGC Guidelines provide ample options to the Universities to permit appearance of students in examinations via online/ offline mode, "to protect the academic and career interests of students while at the same time, safeguarding their health".

During the last hearing Senior Advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Shyam Divan had addressed the Court. Their arguments, on behalf of the Petitioners, may be read here:

'How Can There Be Exams Without Teaching? UGC Directions Arbitrary': Singvhi Seeks Cancellation Of Exams

When Exams Can't Be Held In April With 1137 COVID-19 Cases, How Can They Be Held Now With Lakhs Of Cases?' Shyam Divan Tells SC In Students v UGC

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