Apex court backs UGC decision for compulsory final year-exams, but states can seek postponement; Mamata Banerjee says no exam in Sept

Final year college examinations must be held this year and states cannot promote students without it, the Supreme Court said on Friday. However, states can ask for dates of examinations to be postponed beyond September 30 if they wanted to do so because of the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, it was added. States can postpone but not cancel examinations, the court said.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) had said the examinations must be held by September 30, arguing that the decision was for the benefit of students as universities must start admissions for postgraduate courses.

Several petitions including one by Yuva Sena of Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray had appealed for cancellation of examinations due to COVID-19. The reasons cited were difficulties faced by students because educational institutions have remained closed for months now. Since five semesters have been completed and a cumulative grading point average was in place, this could be used for marking students for the final year, they said. However, the apex court did not rule in favour of this argument and noted that “internal assessments” could not be used for marking final year examinations.

The Court observed that states could approach the UGC for relief by September 20 if they felt they cannot hold examinations by the end of the month. In Kolkata, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee ruled out the possibility of holding the examinations in September, and said that it could be held “online or offline” before the Pujas. She asked state education minister Partha Chatterjee to take immediate steps in the matter.

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