New Delhi, July 31: The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing on pleas challenging a University Grants Commission (UGC) circular till August 10. The clutch of petitions, which included 31 filed by students, sought the annulment of the UGC directive to state governments for mandatorily conducting the final year exams despite the outbreak of COVID-19. UGC Defends Its Circular on Conducting Final Term Exams Before September 30 in Supreme Court.

The bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan began hearing in the case earlier today. Among those representing the petitioners included senior Congress leader and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi. During the course of proceeding, Singhvi highlighted the threat arising from conducting offline examinations across the nation.

The UGC, in a circular issued on July 6, had directed the state governments and union territories to hold examinations in colleges and varsities falling under their jurisdiction by September 30.

A number of state governments had already announced the cancellation of final year and last semester exams this year, citing the threat posed by COVID-19.

With the health crisis unlikely to subside before the year-end, it was decided by the governments of Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal to award the certificates to students this year on the basis of an average marking method.

Union HRD Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, however, disagreed with the states that decided to cancel the examinations this year. Awarding degree to students without holding exams would reduce the credibility of certificates issued by Indian varsities, he said.

Apart from several students, those who challenged the UGC circular in the top court includes Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Aaditya Thackeray. The 31-year-old, who also heads the Yuva Sena - the ruling Shiv Sena's youth wing - had played a role in convincing the Education Ministry of the Maharashtra coalition government in cancelling the final year exams in the state.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 31, 2020 01:24 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website