UGC Case in Supreme Court
UGC Case in Supreme Court
Litigation News

Granted permission to hold final year exams after considering "academic interest of a large number of students", MHA tells Supreme Court

As per the affidavit, communications were exchanged between the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the MHA wherein the former agreed to the conduct of final year exams as per UGC guidelines.

Shruti Mahajan

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has told Supreme Court that it has granted permission for exams to be conducted amid the COVID-19 pandemic in view of the academic interests of a "large number of students".

An affidavit filed to this effect comes shortly after the University Grants Commission (UGC) questioned the Maharashtra and Delhi governments' move to cancel exams during the pandemic.

The MHA affidavit clarifies its position that the permission to grant exemption to educational institutions for the holding of exams was granted on account of the academic interests of the students.

As per the affidavit, communications were exchanged between the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the MHA wherein the former agreed to the conduct of final year exams as per UGC guidelines.

It was after due and adequate deliberations that the Centre granted permission for opening of educational institutions to hold these exams, the MHA states. These final year exams were to be compulsorily held and the Standard Operating Procedure to be followed for the same was approved by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the MHA said.

The affidavit says,

"Taking into consideration the academic interest of a large number of students, it was decided to grant exemption for the opening of educational institutions for the purposes of holding examinations/evaluation work for Final Term Examinations of the Universities/Institutions."

While the Unlock guidelines prescribe for schools, colleges, and educational institutions to be closed till August 31, it was intended that universities and institutes be allowed to open for the specific and limited purpose of holding final year exams, the affidavit goes on to state.

Moreover, this exemption for conduct of final term examinations has been granted by the Union Home Secretary, in exercise of powers under Section 10(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, the affidavit says. It is added,

"The said provision empowers the National Executive Committee to "lay down guidelines for, or give directions to, the concerned Ministries or Departments of the Government of India, the State Governments and the State Authorities regarding measures to be taken by them in response to any threatening disaster situation or disaster."

Earlier, the UGC had registered its opposition to the stance taken by the governments of Maharashtra and Delhi to cancel final year exams this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In its reply, the regulatory body has stated that the state governments are taking contradictory stands with regard to starting the academic session and conduct of final year exams.

The reply has been filed in line with the Supreme Court's direction. The Court had also asked for a clarification on whether the Disaster Management Act notifications can override the UGC guidelines.

The MHA was further directed to make its stand clear on the issue of holding of final year exams after a batch of petitions in relation to these exams came to be filed in the Supreme Court.

Read MHA's affidavit:

MHA affidavit in UGC exams case.pdf
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