NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that states cannot promote final year students without holding examination as ordered by UGC. The SC pronounced its judgement on the batch of pleas challenging the UGC’s guidelines that direct universities and colleges to conduct final year exams by September 30 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah had reserved judgement in this matter on August 18 after a detailed hearing spanning over two days. The Bench is scheduled to pronounce its verdict on Friday in petitions seeking cancellation of final year exams.

SC Verdict on UGC Guidelines & final year exam soon : Highlights

* The SC rules that States/UTs cannot promote final year students without examination as ordered by UGC. States/Union Territories given liberty to approach the UGC to seek postponement of the exams in the light of COVID19 pandemic situation.

* The directions of State Disaster Management Authority for cancelling exams in that particular states will prevail over the UGC directions.

* The decision by State of Maharashtra under the DM Act to not hold exams shall prevail: SC

* The directions of State Disaster Management Authority for cancelling exams in that particular states will prevail over the UGC directions. However the direction of the State Disaster Management Authority to pass the students on the basis of previous performance is beyond the scope of the Disaster Management Act.

* The bench has refused the prayer to quash the UGC guidelines to hold the exams.

* States cannot promote students without holding exams.

* The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah is scheduled to pronounce the judgment soon.

On July 6, the UGC in its revised guidelines directed that all the universities and colleges should conduct final year exams amid the COVID-19 pandemic while following the Standard Operating Procedure.

However, some state governments had already cancelled university final year exams, while asking universities to consider adopting an alternative marking system amid a spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country. Not just students, but also teachers’ associations and youth wings of political parties approached the Supreme Court seeking the cancellation of the exams.

The University Grants Commission had told the top court that the states cannot take decisions to confer degrees without holding the examinations. It had told the court that the directive is for the “benefit of students” as the universities have to commence the admission process to postgraduate courses and state authorities cannot override the UGC’s guideline.

The top court had observed that the issue is if the state disaster management authority has decided that the situation is not conducive for conducting exams, can they overrule the UGC. It had said that another issue is whether the commission can override state authorities and ask the universities to hold examinations on given dates.

The UGC had said that final examination is a “crucial step” in the academic career of a student and the state governments cannot say that its July 6 directive was “not binding”.

The apex court was earlier told by one of the petitioners that nobody is against the university examinations in “normal times” and the students are challenging the UGC’s decision because of the pandemic.

(With inputs from PTI)

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