After the University Grants Commission (UGC) decided not to change its decision to hold final year university exams by September 30, the lead petitioner in the case before the Supreme Court has filed a rejoinder stating that the Commission has failed to take into account the worsening COVID-19 condition.
The rejoinder to the UGC reply filed by Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava states that one out of the 31 students who had approached the Supreme Court is COVID-19 positive.
It is stated that if he opts for the “special exam” option at a later date, he would lose job/admission opportunities.
The Commission has further stated that in case students are unable to appear for the exam, they would be given a chance to appear at a specially conducted exam at a later date so that they are not put to any “inconvenience or disadvantage.”
However in the “extremely urgent rejoinder” filed before the Apex Court, the petitioner has argued that UGC has failed to failed to take into account the worsening COVID-19 crisis in India. It is averred that more than 52,000 COVID-19 cases “have been added in last 24-Hours alone and there is no sign of any improvement betterment before September 30, even as per the ICMR Report.”
The rejoinder states that UGC has ignored the floods in Assam, Bihar and North-Eastern states, which has killed hundreds of people and has badly affected more than 100 districts of these states, making it virtually impossible to conduct either online or offline exams. UGC has also assailed the decisions of the Maharashtra and Delhi governments to not conduct final year exams amid the pandemic. These decisions, the affidavit states, are in violation of the guidelines.
The rejoinder contends that since the UGC itself does not know when the COVID-19 crisis will subside and when the proposed special examination will be conducted for the students, most of the students will ultimately take the final year exams by September 30 “making it patently violative of their fundamental right to life, which includes within its ambit, Right to Health, under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”