In a fresh stand-off, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has termed Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to cancel final-year university exams without consulting him as “unprecedented” and “arbitrary”.
In a strongly worded letter to Thackeray, the Governor termed the decision as “unprecedented” and made “without any profound thinking on the legal repercussions”. The decision if implemented would jeopardise the future of students, he pointed out.
The Governor said that the Chancellor of Universities has the final authority over all matters of universities under the Maharashtra Public Universities Act. Koshyari conveyed to Thackeray that decision on holding exams for final-year students “shall be taken in consonance with the provisions of the Act”.
While expressing his disappointment at not being consulted, the Governor said, “The arbitrary decision has violated the basic principle that to obtain an identical degree, there cannot be two sets of criteria, one who has to give an examination and for others who has obtained marks on average. The examination cannot be made optional.”
“The students of medicine, architecture, law etc need to register themselves with their respective professional bodies/councils after completion of professional courses so as to get their licences to practice,” he stressed, adding that these bodies may not be able to register the students without them being evaluated on established parameters.
The Union Home Ministry had given approval and issued guidelines to conduct exams to various state boards and that CBSE and ICSE are in the process of conducting their exams in spite of Covid-19 pandemic. If other boards can conduct exams for younger students why cannot Maharashtra universities hold the exams as well, he asked.
According to the Governor, the UGC and central authorities are of the view that final-year exams may not be dispensed with and, therefore, the state government should abide by the UGC guidelines along with the provisions of the Maharashtra Universities Act, 2017.
Koshyari reminded the CM that he had clearly mentioned that the Chancellor’s office shall give further directions after accepting the recommendations of the committee partially or fully once the report was received on conducting exams. He said that during his video-conference with Vice Chancellors of all state universities, they had expressed their preparedness for conducting exams.
In his letter to Thackeray, Koshyari said, “I was surprised to learn from media reports that the former (CM) had declared that no exams shall be conducted this year, while I was awaiting a response to an earlier letter to the CM on the matter.”
The Governor pointed out that even though the committee of VCs constituted by the ministry of higher and technical education to analyse the situation and to explore various options available to conduct the exams had given its report to the secretary, higher and technical education department, on May 6, the report had not been presented to him till date.
The row between the Governor and the state government has not gone down well with the ruling coalition. A senior NCP minister, requesting anonymity, said, “On such matters there are always ways to reconcile the situation even if he disliked the CM’s suo motu decision.” The minister said, “We cannot comment against the Governor in public. But it is becoming evident that there is a power tussle.”
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