The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing of pleas challenging University Grants Commission's (UGC) July 6 circular and seeking cancellation of final term examination in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic till August 10. The top court has also asked for the Ministry of Home Affairs' stand on the issue. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for UGC said that the body will file its reply by August 3.
On Thursday, the UGC justified in the Supreme Court its decision directing all universities and institutions to hold final year/semester examinations in September saying it was done to protect the academic future of students across the country.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) filed a 50-page affidavit on a batch of petitions, including the one filed by Shiv Sena's youth wing 'Yuva Sena', which have challenged its guidelines issued on July 6 for holding the exams in September amidst the persisting Coronavirus pandemic.
It said that in June this year, considering the evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, it requested the expert committee to revisit the April 29 guidelines, by which it had asked the Universities and Institutions to hold final year examinations in July 2020.
Accordingly, the expert committee (which also included vice-chancellors of technical universities and a representative of industry) did so and submitted a report recommending that terminal semester/final year examinations should be conducted by universities/ institutions by the end of September 2020 in offline (pen & paper)/ online/ blended (online + offline) mode, the UGC said.
It added that this report of the expert committee was deliberated and approved by the UGC in its emergent meeting held on July 6, since the conduct of the final year/terminal examination is a time-sensitive issue.
Consequently, the UGC immediately issued the Revised Guidelines on Examination and Academic Calendar for the Universities in view of COVID-19 Pandemic' on July 6, it said, adding that all universities/ institutions in the country are obligated to conduct terminal semester/final year examination by the end of September 2020.
The UGC justified the revised guidelines issued on July 6 and said that it adequately takes into account the evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic because it provides sufficient time till the end of September 2020 to conduct the final year/terminal semester examinations after following the prescribed protocols and procedures relating to COVID-19.
"It is humbly submitted that final year/terminal semester examinations are important because the learning process is a dynamic interaction where the only way to figure out what students know is to seek evidence of their knowledge and to evaluate it," the affidavit said.
(With PTI inputs)