On Tuesday, July 18, the Supreme Court reserved its order on the petitions filed against the directive issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on July 6, which stated that the final-year examinations shall be conducted before September 30 at any cost.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah heard the parties over a video conferencing which lasted for over four hours. The connectivity briefly went off in the middle of the hearing.
The bench heard senior advocate Arvind P. Datar for the state of Maharashtra, senior advocate Jaideep Gupta for teachers from West Bengal, senior advocate K.V. Vishwanathan for government of Delhi and so on.
The court also heard solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the UGC, who, in his final submission, said that the commission had the power to issue the guidelines under the UGC Act. While the universities, he said, can seek for the deadline extension, they cannot confer degrees to the final-year students without conducting exams.
The bench, reserving its final verdict, asked Mehta, “If there is a certain situation in a State, can the UGC override the State and mandate for the exams to still be held? How can that happen?”
The date for the next hearing is yet to be disclosed.
In defense of the UGC guidelines
“The conduction of final year exam is a must. One cannot say that the holding of it is arbitrary,” Mehta said, adding that a lot of universities have recently conducted exams in online, offline and even in the “hybrid mode” (a combination of both online and offline) and therefore they cannot do away with the exams.
SG makes a final submission that the entire country is working.
“The students are 21-22 year olds. Can you really believe that they will not be going out ?”#StudentsInSCForJustice #StudentsInSCAgainstUGC #student_lives_matter #31StudentsInSCAgainstUGC @advocate_alakh
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) August 18, 2020