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The PIL filed by two students says that the orders/notifications/circulars issued by Colleges and Universities are in line with UGC guidelines of April 2020 but against MHA orders on Lockdown-3, Lockdown-4, and Unlock-1.
A PIL has been filed in the Gujarat High Court challenging the action of various Institutes and Universities to declare exam dates and fresh admission procedure in contravention to the orders passed by the MHA amid COVID-19 pandemic (Priyank Vinodbhai Pandya and anr v. UOI and ors).
The examination dates and procedure are being notified by various institutes in line with the guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC). However, the plea filed by two students states that these guidelines are contrary to the orders of the MHA issued under the Disaster Management Act.
The petition says that the orders/notifications and circulars etc. issued by various Institutes declaring exam dates and fresh admission have “led to chaos and the educational system and is jeopardizing the safety and welfare of the students.”
These orders and notifications, the petitioner says, are “adverse, arbitrary, and unlawful”. The declaration of exam dates amid this pandemic is increasing the grievances of the students and therefore, proper guidelines need to be laid down to avoid further chaos.
The plea points out that the UGC guidelines that are essentially the basis for the institutes to declare exam dates were issued in April this year at a time when the second leg of nation-wide lockdown was imposed. At that time, normalcy was anticipated to have returned in May and based on the said assessment and assumption, the UGC had notified a new academic calendar.
However, due to the worsening condition of spread of the pandemic in the country, the lockdown was extended further. The MHA order for Lockdown-3 stated that all educational, training, research, coaching institutes etc. were considered as prohibited activities throughout the country. However, there was no revised set of guidelines issued by UGC.
A grievance redressal forum amid COVID-19 was directed to be set up by the UGC and various representations by student bodies came to be made before this forum. The grievances largely pertained to holding of exams and their cancellation or postponement.
The petitioners too made a representation before this forum as well as before the HRD Ministry, Health Ministry, and even Home Ministry. On not receiving any response on the representations thus made, the petitioners moved the High Court seeking direction for the authorities to take a decision on the mode and form of conducting exams as well as admission process in a uniform manner.
The petitioners have also prayed for a direction to the authorities to “formulate an SOP for the institutes as per the Guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) dated 30th May 2020 (Unlock-1)”
Till an alternative mode for exams is notified, the concerned authorities may be directed to issue orders for staying of the exam and admission processes throughout India, the plea prays.
The petition has been filed through Advocate Mohammed K Vohra.