Final year exams mandatory, deadline can be altered: SC
31 August 2020
The Supreme Court has upheld the 6 July circular of the University Grants Commission (UGC) directing universities to hold final year qualifying exams by 30 September, but said state governments may postpone the exams for another day under the Disaster Management Act.
Pronouncing the judgement on a petition challenging the UGC directive to conduct final year exams by 30 September, a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said final exams are mandatory and that no college or university can promote students without holding an examination.
"States can postpone final year exams under Disaster Management Act but fresh dates have to be fixed in consultation with UGC," said the Supreme Court bench which also included justices Ashok Bhushan, RS Reddy and M R Shah.
“States cannot promote students based on internal assessment or past performance. If states want to hold exams after September 30, they can approach UGC for the same,” the bench said.
The UGC had issued a directive to universities and colleges to hold final year exams by 30 September so as to facilitate admissions to various courses in the academic year, which is already delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Petitioners, including Yuva Sena, the youth wing of Shiv Seana, a partner in Maharashtra’s ruling alliance, had moved the apex court directing universities and colleges to hold examinations amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The UGC had told the top court that its 6 July directive, asking universities and colleges to conduct final year exams by 30 September amid the Covid-19 pandemic, is "not a diktat" but states cannot take any decision to confer degrees without holding examinations. The directive, it pointed out, is for the "benefit of students" as the universities have to start admissions to postgraduate courses and state authorities cannot override the UGC's guideline.
The UGC had earlier said that the 6 July guidelines are based on recommendations of experts and have been made after due deliberation and it is wrong to claim that it will not be possible to conduct the final examinations in terms of the guidelines.
Assailing the decisions of states like Maharashtra and Delhi to cancel final year examinations, the UGC had said that such decisions directly affect standards of higher education and will be an encroachment on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education that is exclusively reserved for Parliament under Schedule VII of the Constitution.