University Grants Commission (UGC) said to Bombay High Court on Friday that the state governments do not have the authority to cancel university exams, reports NDTV. The Commission said that all universities are obligated to conduct the final year/semester exams before September 30.

An affidavit with the statement was filed by the Commission in response to a petition filed by Dhananjay Kulkarni, a retired teacher and former university senate member from Pune.

UGC in its affidavit said the epidemic disease act cannot be used to negate the “statutory provisions of another special Act such as The University Grants Commissioner Act nugatory”, reports NDTV. The affidavit added that the state government’s decision “to defer the final year examinations or to graduate students without holding exams would directly affect the standards of higher education in the country.”

In two separate guidelines issued in April and July, the Commission had asked universities to conduct the final year and final semester examination. The Commission had given the freedom to universities to conduct these exams either offline/online in whichever way they deem as suitable.

Contrary to the recommendations, the state of Maharashtra under the Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act cancelled all the university and college exams in the state. Several other states have taken similar measures including Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana amid the rising COVID-19 cases.

Kulkarni had challenged the Maharashtra state government’s decision to cancel the exam for final year students of both professional and non-professional courses. The court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta has posted the matter for further hearing for July 31.

The Commission had previously said, “The performance in examinations contributes to merit, lifelong credibility, wider global acceptability for admissions, scholarships, awards, placements, and better future prospects.”

Last week, Yuva Sena from Maharashtra led by Aditya Thackerey, state cabinet minister, had moved to the Supreme Court against the Commission’s decision for universities and colleges to conduct the final year examinations. Thackeray had made a statement saying that the Commission’s decision to conduct the exam amid COVID-19 pandemic is “absolutely absurd and probably from an alternate universe”.