Supreme Court has adjourned the hearing with regard to pleas challenging the UGC guidelines for conduct of the final year exams in the universities. The next hearing on the issue will be taken on August 18, reports Times of India.

Representing the petition by 31 students against the conduct of the exam, Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued that the cases of COVID-19 is increasing exponentially and conduct of exams would affect the health of the students, said the report.

Singhvi also argued that the exams are not an end to itself but exams must happen after teaching. He also pointed out the MHA’s stance that all educational institutions must remain closed since the onset of the pandemic.

Senior Counsel Shyam Divan who was representing Yuva Sena also pointed out the MHA guidelines of closing all the educational institutions and said that these guidelines are the minimum standards and states are not allowed to dilute it further. He also said that UGC guidelines are advisory in nature and universities have the option to make their own plans, added the report.

Divan also highlighted the UGC guidelines’ lack of mention of health concerns or COVID-19 situation when providing a deadline of September 30. He said that UGC has failed to consider the pandemic situation. He also raised the issue of transportation amid the lockdown in containment zones.

The Centre on Thursday had told the Court that UGC had received permission from the Home Ministry on the guidelines issued for the university exams. The Ministry said that the decision to allow the exams was taken in the academic interest of the students.

UGC had said in earlier hearings that the Commission has the authority to confer degrees to the students. States’ do not have an authority to cancel the exams. It also instructed students to continue preparing for the exams and not assume that the exams are going to get cancelled or postponed.

The state of Maharashtra and Delhi had challenged UGC’s decision to conduct the final year examinations in all universities. These states have issued orders to cancel all university exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. It has asked universities to grade students based on internal assessment and past performance.

Apart from these states, petitions for the cancellation of the university exam has been filed by a group of 31 students from different states and universities. A separate petition has been filed Yuva Sena led by Aditya Thackeray, Yash Dubey, and others.

UGC had issued guidelines to all the universities on July 6 that they need to conduct the final year/semester exams for all the courses before September 30. It had given universities flexibility to conduct the exams either offline or online or mix of both.