NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to pass an interim order on a batch of pleas seeking quashing of the University Grants Commission's (UGC) guidelines that directed universities to conduct final-year examinations by 30 September. The court adjourned the hearing till 10 August.
The apex court bench, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, asked the home ministry to clarify its stand on the UGC's 6 July guidelines and the challenges filed by petitioners.
The top court bench, also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, ordered all parties to file their affidavits by 7 August and rejoinders a day after that. Once all the documents are on record, the court will hear the case on 10 August.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the education regulator, said, “Let nobody be under the impression that because the court is hearing, everything is stayed. Students should continue to prepare."
Justice Ashok Bhushan clarified, “Yes, we have not passed any order."
The apex court bench on 27 July had sought a response from UGC on a batch of petitions seeking cancellation of final-year examinations amid the covid-19 crisis.
The students from 13 states and a Union Territory have pleaded that the examinations should be cancelled and the results should be calculated on the basis of internal assessment.
The UGC filed its response on Thursday and held that it shall not alter the 6 July guidelines.
In the affidavit, UGC said the guidelines to conduct the exams were issued to “protect the academic future of the students". The exams were necessary to evaluate the students on “specialized elective courses" they took in the final year, it added.
UGC also submitted that the universities have been given sufficient time to conduct the exams and they have also been given enough flexibility on online and offline models.
A rejoinder to this reply filed by the petitioners through advocate Alakh Alok submitted that the UGC had not considered the floods in Assam, Bihar and north-eastern states, which had killed hundreds of people and badly affected more than 100 districts of these states. It is therefore impossible to conduct online or offline examinations in these places.
More than a dozen students from across India, who tested covid-19 positive, have challenged the directive to colleges and universities. The petitioners said even family members of many students have tested positive, and urged the court to ensure that the exams are not conducted amid these uncertainties.