The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Friday told the Bombay High Court that the Maharashtra Government did not have power to cancel final year university exams and that the power is vested with the regulator. It further said that the state government’s decision to cancel final year exams would directly affect the standards of higher education in India.
The commission, filed an affidavit through its Education Officer Nikhil Kumar, in response to a PIL, filed by a retired professor and Pune resident Dhananjay Raghunath Kulkarni, through advocate Uday Warunjikar, which stated the University Grants Commission (UGC) was the regulating authority in such matters, and the state was not empowered to decide the mode of assessment for final-year students. Therefore, the June 19 government resolution (GR) should be set aside and quashed.
On July 6, the UGC issued revised guidelines and decided not to recommend cancellation of the final semester (or final year) examination for graduating batches and has advised institutions to conduct these exams by the end of September. The regulator said these exams can be conducted in online, offline, or blended mode.
In support of its decision, the UGC said that it had not made any distinction between professional and non-professional course. The affidavit stated, “The State Government’s decision to defer the final year/ terminal semester examinations or to graduate students without holding examinations is a matter directly affecting the standards of higher education in the country.”
On July 17, the state government had reiterated before a division bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta that it cannot allow final-year examinations for professional and non-professional courses to be held in Maharashtra given the coronavirus outbreak. The court had asked other respondent education to file affidavits in reply to the pleas challenging the GR.
Earlier, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), governing organisations for university-affiliated and autonomous technical institutions told the Bombay High Court that in view of University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines, the council has asked them not to cancel final year examinations and conduct them through online, offline or blended mode. The AICTE further said that it has issued a revised schedule for final year graduation or post graduate diploma examinations.
The HC will hear pleas pertaining to conduct of final year degree exams next on July 31.
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