New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved judgement on whether the final year degree examinations in universities should be held before September 30, in accordance with University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines.
The top court will also decide whether state governments have the power to take a decision against conducting final year examinations under the Disaster Management Act.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan has reserved the judgement on a batch of PILs along with some state governments - Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi - questioning the UGC direction to universities to conduct final year exams before September 30. The bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah heard the parties for nearly four hours via video conferencing.
The state governments have argued that they have the power to promote students without exams in the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The bench heard Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar (for State of Maharashtra), Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta (for teachers from West Bengal), Senior Advocate K V Vishwanathan (for Government of NCT of Delhi), Advocate Generals for Odisha and West Bengal, Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora for intervenors, Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava etc.
The Court also heard Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for the University Grants Commission.
Mehta contended before the top court that final year is the degree year and exams cannot be done away with. Mehta also cited examples of exams being conducted by some universities and added that many top-level universities have opted for online exams. Mehta insisted that foreign universities and further education require degrees.
Citing the UGC guidelines, Mehta contended before the bench that these guidelines are not merely for preaching and that they are mandatory. The guidelines which have been challenged before the top court have a statutory mandate, added Mehta.
During the hearing, the bench asked the Solicitor General whether the UGC can override a state where a certain situation is existing to direct the holding of exams
While reserving judgment, the bench asked the parties to submit their written submissions within 3 days.
The Court started detailed hearing in the matter on August 14, when it heard Senior Advocates Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Senior Advocate Shyam Divan for the petitioners.
(with inputs from IANS and LiveLaw)