By Weindrila Sen-
The Supreme Court today issued a notice for all the petitioners, who have challenged the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) guideline, making it compulsory for all universities across the country, to conduct final year exams by September 30. The matter will be heard on July 31, UGC has to respond to the plea within the given date.
The bench comprising of, Justice BR Gavai, Ashok Bhushan, and R Subhash Reddy, has directed Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General to file a reply by July 29 and the same can be followed by a rejoinder on July 30. The plea by the 31 students (collectively) prayed for UGC to adopt the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) model. According to the said model, the students can sit for the examination later, if they are not satisfied with the marks awarded based on their past or internal assessments.
A similar petition was heard by the Apex Court, on July 24, filed by the National Students Union of India (NSUI), seeking to postpone/cancel pending exams at all levels in India, which was dismissed by the bench.
The Petitioners includes a COVID positive student, who mentioned that there are many such final year students, who are either COVID positive or somebody from their family is. There were several grievances raised by the Petitioners, like:1. UGC did not consider the students from the North-Eastern State, Bihar, and Assam, who are facing a severe crisis due to the recent flood.2. Students will face a lot of issues finding accommodation, as most of them have left for their hometown. Landlords are also reluctant to give their property on rent/PG now.3. As public transport is limited and there is no regular railway service available, students will face a problem traveling for their examination.4. UGC decided without consulting Students, Colleges, Universities, etc. making its decision erroneous.5. The financial crunch among many families will make it very difficult for them to afford the travel, accommodation, etc. of the students.
The Solicitor General, appearing for UGC, submitted that 394 universities are through the process of conducting the examination, 209 completed the examination process, and 35 still have nots reached final year; out of 818 universities in India. Advocate Alakh Alok, appearing on behalf of petitioner mentioned that more than 50,000 positive cases were reported in a single day recently, keeping in mind the increase in threat among the students, the Apex Court should stay the UGC guidelines.