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[UGC v. Students] "Law Students Holding Offers At Foreign Universities On Brink Of Having Admission Forfeited": Plea Moved In SC Seeking Conferment Of Provisional Degree [Read Petition]

Mehal Jain
19 Aug 2020 2:12 PM GMT
[UGC v. Students] Law Students Holding Offers At Foreign Universities On Brink Of Having Admission Forfeited: Plea Moved In SC Seeking Conferment Of Provisional Degree [Read Petition]
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A LLM offer-holder from the University of Cambridge, Vaishnavi Ambadipudi, (a final year law student of Osmania University, Hyderabad) has filed an Intervention Application in the Supreme Court in the challenge to the UGC Guidelines dated 6th July mandating conduct of examinations for final year students by 30th September.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the July 6 directive of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to the Universities to hold final semester examinations by September 30.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah reserved the judgment after hearing the parties for nearly four hours via video conferencing.

Vaishnavi's admission at the University of Cambridge is subject to her submitting her final year degree certificate to the University on or before 19 th September 2020. Given the pandemic situation prevalent throughout the country in general, and the State of Telengana in particular, it is neither feasible nor practical to conduct examinations. In view of this, it has been submitted that the Intervener and other similarly placed students be conferred degree/provisional degree certificates based upon their performance in previous semesters on the basis of existing UGC guidelines permitting the same.
"The Intervener also undertakes to answer her final semester examinations as and when conducted in the future, but sought for her degree to be allotted before 19 th September in order to not forfeit her admission at the University of Cambridge", it is submitted.
The Intervener has also assailed the impugned UGC guidelines on four specific grounds -
a. Violation of the right to life of the Intervener under Article 21
b. Violation of Article 14 by treating unequals as equals
c. Absence of consultation as mandated by S.12 of the UGC Act
d. UGC's lack of legislative competence to regulate examinations
The intervener draws attention to Section 12 of the UGC Act which states that it "shall be the general duty of the Commission to take, in consultation with the Universities or other bodies concerned, all such steps as it may think fit for the promotion and co-ordination of University education and for the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in Universities."
It is contended that when one authority is required to consult another, such consultation must be meaningful, conscious and effective, per Andhra Bank
v. Andhra Bank Officers, (2008) 7 SCC 203. "In light of the aforesaid ratio, the mandate of Section 12 is not met and on this ground alone the UGC circular is liable to be set aside", it is urged.
It is argued that the impugned UGC circular draws upon its powers from Entry 66 of List 1 of the 7 th Schedule of the Indian Constitution and as per the ratio laid down in Modern Dental College v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2016) 7 SCC 353, the SC has held that that conduct of examinations is beyond the scope of Entry 66. In view of this, the Interveners submit that impugned UGC circular is beyond legislative competence. Thus, neither the UGC nor any Central Government authority has any power to regulate the conduct of examinations.
The interveners place reliance upon Clause 6 read with Clause 8 of the UGC (Minimum Standards of Instruction for the Grant of the Master's Degree through Formal Education) Regulations, 2003 which provides that the overall performance of the students, throughout the course in issue is assessed in deciding as to whether or not he/she is entitled to conferment of degree.
"In view of the intervener having completed 95% of her course by virtue of having completed 9 semesters and internal examination for the Xth Semester; a conjoint reading of the aforesaid entitles the Intervener and similarly placed candidates to secure a degree/provisional degree", it is advanced.
The Intervention Application is drafted by Ms. Pranjal Kishore and Mr. Aditya Manubarwala, Advocates through Bharat T. Manubarwala, AOR, Supreme Court. Mr. Manubarwala and Kishore were assisted by Mr. Varun Varma and Ms. Nistha Gupta, Advocates.
[Read Petition]

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