The University Grants Commission (UGC) has questioned the decision of the Delhi and Maharashtra governments to cancel the final year exams of state universities amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The UGC on Monday contended before the Supreme Court that the action of the state governments was in contravention of rules.
The Supreme Court was hearing a batch of pleas that have challenged the July 6 directive of the UGC. The commission in its directive has asked all universities and colleges to conduct final year examinations by September 30.
The commission’s decision has miffed many students and parents who are concerned about safety amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
States not empowered to change UGC rules
Representing the Centre, solicitor general Tushar Mehta said states are not empowered to change the rules of the UGC. He added that only UGC is empowered to prescribe rules for conferring degrees.
The solicitor general argued that not conducting exams will not be in the interest of students. Adding, he said, the degrees may not be recognised if the states act unilaterally.
During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, Mehta informed the bench about the decisions of Delhi and Maharashtra to cancel final year exams of state universities.
He said that the UGC would file its response on the affidavits filed by Maharashtra and Delhi in the matter.
The bench granted time to the UGC to file response and posted the matter for further hearing on August 14.
July 6 guideline of UGC not legal
Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, appearing for some of the petitioners, claimed that the July 6 guideline for holding exams was neither legal nor constitutionally valid.
He also raised the issue regarding guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for educational institutions amid the pandemic.
The top court had on July 31 refused to pass any interim order on the pleas.
The UGC had earlier told the court that nobody should remain under the impression that since the Supreme Court is examining this issue, the final year /semester examination would be stayed.
The solicitor general had informed the bench that out of over 800 universities in the country, 209 have completed the examinations. He added that around 390 universities are in the process of conducting exams.
The UGC had filed an affidavit in the apex court. It had justified its July 6 decision saying it was done to protect the academic future of students across the country.
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