Due to the sudden lockdown caused by the global pandemic, all the institutions and colleges have come to a standstill. The lockdown was implemented at the peak time of exams in the year 2020. Crucial exams had been postponed and others had been cancelled by the institutes. However, there was a ruckus created by the growing confusion among students regarding the question, ‘Will the final exams be held or not?’
After getting bombarded by a million petitions, the Supreme Court of India recently announced its final verdict on this issue faced by the institutional and educational systems. The verdict stated that the universities as well as the states are not allowed to pass students to the next qualification without conducting the final exams. Court has mentioned that the exams must be conducted at the most by the 30th of September 2020.
The University Grants Commission of India, also known as the UGC, had taken the decision of withholding the final exams for students in the early days of the Lockdown. However, the Supreme Court decided that the final exams will be conducted without fail this year.
Under the Disaster Management Act, it has been declared that general examinations can be avoided. However, in no case can the degree students be promoted without giving their final exams. Justice Ashok Bhushan made it clear that in cases where the states or universities are unable to conduct the exams within the given time frame, they can report to the UGC for deadline extension provision. If there are genuine cases of universities being unable to hold the examinations or tests for the final year, they have to request the UGC system for delaying the exam dates. There is no provision for exam cancellation request as of yet.
Yuva Sena is the youth wing party of the Shiv Sena. This party is one among the many parties that had requested the Court to withdraw its decision of conducing final exams for students in the course of the lockdown. However, the UGC stands by the court’s decision and believes that it will be unethical to promote students to a higher qualification without testing and conducting exams. They further elaborate stating that decisions of cancelling examinations or giving away free marks and qualifications will hamper with the standards of education among schools and colleges. This will give rise to a lenient attitude within students which will impact the discipline of all students throughout the states.
WHAT WOULD BE THE EFFECT OF THIS VERDICT?
Advocates are still fighting against the judgement of the Supreme Court. Parties are awaiting the entire judgement on the case and hoping for some leverage regarding the final exam issue.
Some states including Odisha, Maharashtra, Delhi, etc. have claimed that the Court did not take them in confidence before passing the final verdict. On these and several other grounds, these states have demanded the Supreme Court to give them concessions with respect to final year exams and have pleaded to allow cancellation of final exams due to health and management difficulties.
The Supreme Court, however, has granted the petition of Maharashtra University for cancellation of the examinations. As a result, several exams held by the MU have been cancelled and passing is done on the basis of previous semester evaluation and assignment marks. This policy is different for different colleges coming under the university. However, even the Maharashtra University is not given the permission to pass the degree students. In case of the degree college students, exams have to be held according to the verdict. These exams can be conducted later as per convenience of the university under valid circumstances and requests.
603 out of 818 universities implementing this decision have decided to conduct their own examinations. 204 of the total universities have conducted their examinations successfully. Remaining colleges have made special arrangements for the children to give their final exams by September 30.
STUDENTS’ REACTION ON THIS VERDICT
Mass students across the nation have filed petitions against the verdict’s decision and 11 students have carried their case to the Supreme Court. A certain student had been tested positive of Covid-19. He had petitioned against the verdict and has requested the Court to function according to the CBSC system and format.
In addition, students claim that the regulations under the UGC guidelines with respect to the final examinations are ‘inhuman’ and that they are against their health-related rights.
Students have put forth their point explaining that to give examinations, students come from all walks of life and can contain infecting agents upon themselves. Many students have to travel from far-away places and that cannot be possible at this time of lockdown. Arrangement of so many students and overall management will need high standards as a small fault can lead to mass infection. Even though the students have put some great points in front of the Court, there are very less chances that the court will take back its final decision.
The Supreme Court’s decision is said to be final until further progress on the case. This verdict has its own pros and cons. The UGC has decided upon multiple aspects in this direction. The Court has taken the judgement with the intent of “enhancing educational standards”.
The students and other parties that stand firm against the decision too have put forth some valid key points. In order to maintain the health and hygiene aspect, the exams should be refrained from being held. With rising illnesses and tough conditions, students are being unable to cope up with academics. They demand basic relaxation in rules and examinations. The government has suggested such universities to conduct online exams if times are tough. However, no rule has allowed the cancellation of final year exams for students pursuing their degrees.