The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its judgement on a bunch of petitions that challenged the University Grants Commission’s directive to conclude final year exams by September 30 amid the coronavirus pandemic, Bar and Bench reported. The court gave three days to all parties to submit their written arguments.
Before reserving orders, the bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah heard the arguments made by the governments of Delhi, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Odisha.
The bench heard senior advocates Arvind P Datar (for Maharashtra), Jaideep Gupta (for teachers from West Bengal), KV Vishwanathan (for Delhi), advocate generals for Odisha and West Bengal, among others. The representatives argued that the states were not consulted before the finalisation of the guidelines. They contended that state governments have the authority to take decisions related to the health of its citizens and in this regard, the guidelines issued by the UGC impedes on the states’ rights to make decisions.
West Bengal Advocate General Kishore Dutta said that the UGC had taken the decision to conduct exams unilaterally. “In this pandemic, states like Maharashtra and West Bengal cannot be treated to be the same,” he said. “We are in exceptional circumstances, we have to see whether UGC has taken the decision keeping in view the extraordinary situation.”
Datar, appearing on behalf of Maharashtra, contested the UGC’s claim that all vice chancellors were consulted before coming up with July 6 guidelines. He claimed that no ministers or VCs from Maharashtra were consulted before issuing the guidelines.
The advocate also pointed out that most universities follow semester based system and therefore, argued that the final year was not important as the assessment is done on a cumulative basis.