SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS THE VALIDITY OF THE GUIDELINES ISSUED BY UNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION TO CONDUCT EXAMS IN 2020
The 3-Judge Bench of the #SupremeCourt has in a recent case of Praneeth K and Others vs University Grants Commission and Others along with nine other Petitions,passed a Judgment dated 28-08-2020 and upheld the validity of the #Guidelines issued by the University Grants Commission (#UGC) dated 06-07-2020, directing all #universities and #colleges in the country to conduct terminal semester/final year #examinations by #30-09-2020.
In some of these tagged matters, various students, youth organisations and associations of teachers from across the country have challenged the Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the Universities dated 06-07-2020 issued by the UGC in view of the #COVID-19 Pandemic and subsequent Lockdown situation, and the Office Memorandum (O.M.) dated 06-07-2020 issued by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (Ministry) in that regard.
A copy of the Guidelines dated 06-07-2020 issued by UGC is attached below:
A copy of the O.M. dated 06-07-2020 issued by the Ministry is attached below:
These Guidelines and O.M. have directed all the Colleges and Universities to conduct terminal semester/final year examinations by 30-09-2020 in online or offline or both online-offline mode. The Guidelines have further directed that the Colleges and Universities shall grant degrees only after conducting such exams.
In other tagged matters, some students have prayed that the State of Maharashtra and the State of West Bengal should comply with the UGC Guidelines dated 06-07-2020, as these States had decided not to conduct the final term examinations.
The Apex Court made the following observations in these matters:
1- That Section 12 of the UGC Act 1956 (the Act) provides that UGC has the duty to take all steps for the promotion and coordination of University education and for the determination and maintenance of teaching, examination and research in Universities. The term ‘steps’ includes issuance of guidelines, directions, circulars, etc. Therefore, the UGC is well within its power given under Section 12 of the Act to issue the Guidelines dated 06-07-2020, as they relate to coordination and determination of standards of higher education in institutions.
2- That under Regulation 6.1 of the UGC (Minimum Standards of Instruction for the Grant of the Master’s Degree through Formal Education) Regulations, 2003 (the Regulations), it is the statutory obligation of the Universities and Colleges to adopt the Guidelines issued by the UGC in respect of conduct of examinations.
3- But the Universities have control over the manner of conducting the terminal semester/final year examinations, i.e. whether in online mode or offline mode or both online-offline mode.
4- That the examinations for Final Year students are more important than that of students of intermediate or initial years of College. The students who appear in their Final Year examinations, have the chance to explore employment opportunities or higher education courses, unlike the students in intermediate courses. Thus, these Guidelines are not unreasonable, arbitrary, discriminative and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India 1950.
5- Further, the UGC has rightly fixed a uniform date of completion of Final Year examinations applicable throughout the country, as this would enable the Final Year students to apply for admission in higher education courses or for employment.
6- That the institutions have to comply with the UGC Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) while conducting the examinations. The said SOP provides that the examination centre floors, doors, gates, etc have to be disinfected, fresh mask and gloves to be used by exam functionaries, sanitisers should be available in the examination rooms, etc.
7- That the State Governments and State Disaster Management Authority also have to comply with the said Guidelines dated 06-07-2020 and conduct the terminal semester/final year examinations by 30-09-2020. Although, the UGC may consider extending the deadline for any particular state, if they approach UGC.
Therefore, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the Guidelines dated 06-07-2020 as they are statutory in nature and have been issued for the welfare of the students. Thus, the Apex Court directed the Universities and Colleges across the country to adopt and comply with the said Guidelines and SOP, while conducting the terminal semester/final year examinations.
Senior Legal Associate
The Indian Lawyer