New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s three-judge bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan today refused to pass any interim order on the impasse created by the Universities Grant Commission’s (UGC) decision to stick to its September 30 deadline for exams to be held within this pandemic, amid students’ clamour that they be cancelled and marks with internal assessment be given. The matter comes up again on August 10.
Within the hearing, Justice Bhushan commented that nobody should assume that exams would be suspended just because “we are hearing this. Nobody should be under the impression that they cannot prepare. Students should prepare for the exam.”
Senior Advocate Abhisekh Manu Singhvi, arguing for one of the 31 petitioners, a student, said: “Many universities have been converted into COVID-19 centres. This has happened in Maharashtra and West Bengal. Bar Councils too have cancelled exams. The July 6 guidelines ignore the MHA guidelines too. Heavens will not fall if exams are cancelled.”
He said: “Now this is striking… The new guidelines were to make it more difficult for students amid COVID19. Some of the universities lack basic IT infrastructure to conduct these online exams. It is not feasible to adopt the online mode of exam uniformly.”
The court pointed out that the guidelines provide both online and offline exams.
Regarding the MHA’s stand, the court pointed out that MHA guidelines were of July 20. “How can July 6 guidelines take them into account? The purpose of that guideline by MHA did not relate to exams.”
Singhvi said: “This optional exam is problematic. If someone cannot appear in the exam and is given a later option, it will create chaos.”
The court said: “But it is for the benefit of the students.”
SC told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to make stand of the MHA clear.
The matter will be heard on August 10.
Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava submitted that 31 petitioners in the case are students. Today more than 25,000 (sic) Covid 19 cases have been recorded. It’s the highest single day spike.
The court asked: “Are decisions by the state disaster management committee on the record?”
Singhvi said: “I will place them on record.”
Alakh requested the court to pass an interim order as many students are stuck in flood affected areas of Bihar and Assam. “How will they travel,” he asked.
The court reiterated: “We are not passing any interim orders now.”
– India Legal Bureau
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