Shyam Dewan said in the Supreme Court Student Vs UGC: Now, how will it happen during lakhs of cases?
Senior Advocate Shyam Dewan submitted that the UGC itself cleared that its guidelines are nature of advisory; they should be adapted to the local requirements as per the guidelines. He pressing the point and said that these COVID-19 cases are increasing so rapidly in many states like Maharashtra. At many places as per the necessity, the colleges and educational institutions have been converted into quarantine centers.
Before the bench Justices, Ashok Bhushan, Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice MR Shah of he presented “Universities must consider the local conditions before deciding to conduct the exam.” The diwan asked, Even as per the latest ‘unlocked’ guidelines issued by the Home Ministry on 29 July, the activities that will not be allowed include schools, colleges, and coaching institutes. The MHA prohibits states / Union Territories from lightening the restrictions but has allowed them to extend additional restrictions. As such, how can the UGC give instructions for conducting the examination?
He said after mentioning the fact that the UGC itself said that the health of the students should be paramount importance. “Nowhere does the UGC state whether the health system has improved or if there is a new system.”
UGC cannot override Disaster Management Authority Dewan submitted that the UGC guidelines are subordinate to the directives issued by the Disaster Management Authority. The Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority has issued a direction to cancel the final term examination in view of the increasing COVID-19 cases. The UGC has taken the stand that SDMA cannot interfere in the conduct of examinations.
He stressed that in the event of a disaster, the instructions of the DMA are fulfilled, and no other authority can ease them. “… Once you have a disaster going on, where you have elevated your right to life, no authority can come to you and say they will lighten the restrictions!”, He said. “On April 29, the confirmed cases were 1137. You could not conduct the examination then. How would you have them with the number of cases now? The epidemic is increasing in intensity,” he said. He said that if the examinations could not have been held in May, they could no longer be conducted. Students are a homogenous class.
His next presentations were in the context of exempting all students except students from the last semester from the requirement of taking the exam by the UGC. Students in intermediate years/semesters are to be promoted based on their past performance and internal examinations. In this regard, Dewan submitted that students form a “homogenous class” in relation to the risk of COVID-19, and cannot be discriminated against based on the year in which they are.
The teacher and supervisor are also a homogenous class. His health and his life are also important. It does not matter which class or semester you teach. They requested that “Many students live with their families, with their grandparents and their parents. Students probably do not show symptoms, but they will come in contact with their families. There is some concern for them, Please.”
He further said that there are thousands of containment zones across the country.. Sudden lockdowns are being imposed. This is not a special exam, it is nationwide. All classes of students must take this test. Many students do not have access to technology.” Does UGC have sensitivity and flexibility? “He urged the bench to “see this concern of the students.”
Earlier, senior Advocate, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi made presentations for Yash Dubey, one of the petitioners. After Diwan ended the arguments, the bench adjourned the next hearing till next Tuesday (August 18).