Final year college examinations must be held this year but states can ask for the dates to be deferred beyond September 30 if they wanted to because of the coronavirus crisis, the Supreme Court said today. "State cannot promote students without final year examinations," the top court asserted.
The bottom-line is that all students have to take the final exams; states can only postpone them but cannot cancel them, according to the court.
Several petitions, including one by the Yuva Sena of Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray, had called for the exams to be cancelled because of Covid-19. The petitions referred to difficulties faced by students at a time all educational institutions were closed due to the virus crisis. They argued that students have completed five semesters and had a Cumulative Grade Point Average or CGPA, which could be the basis for results without final examinations.
But the Supreme Court ruled that "internal assessments will not suffice."
The national education body University Grants Commission (UGC) had said final year college exams must be held by September 30. The exams are a must to "protect the academic future of students" and degrees cannot be given without examinations, it had said. During hearings, the UGC told the Supreme Court that the directive on exams was "not a diktat" but states cannot take a decision to confer degrees without exams; the state were free to extend the deadline. The Supreme Court today agreed.
"If states feel they cannot conduct exams by September 20, they can approach UGC for relief," said the judges.
Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah delivered the ruling through video-conferencing.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for UGC, said the decision was for the "benefit of students" as the universities have to start admissions to postgraduate courses.
In August, the UGC had questioned the decisions of Delhi and Maharashtra to cancel final year exams. Such decisions, said the central college body, "directly affect the standards of higher education and will be an encroachment on the legislative field of coordinating and determining the standards of higher education that is exclusively reserved for parliament under the constitution".