State govt. says it respects Supreme Court verdict
The Maharashtra government on Friday convened an urgent meeting of vice-chancellors (VCs) of universities in the State to chalk out plans for conducting the final year examinations after the Supreme Court ruled that students cannot be promoted without exams.
State Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant said, “We respect the Supreme Court’s decision. We will be discussing with all vice-chancellors how to conduct the exams. We had informed the court that the COVID-19 situation will create problems. The court has still asked us to go ahead with the exams. We will act accordingly.”
Mr. Samant said the State government was not in favour of conducting the exams considering the safety of around nine lakh students. He said a committee comprising VCs and experts has been formed to prepare a timetable for the exams. The committee has been asked to submit its report in two days. “We will not announce the dates randomly. We will give necessary time for the students to prepare for the exams,” he said.
The Yuva Sena, the ruling Shiv Sena’s youth wing, had approached the Supreme Court, challenging the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) order to conduct the exams. The apex court turned down the plea and directed the UGC to fix dates for the exams as per the recommendation of the State government. “Safety of students is our utmost priority. There are colleges which are being used as quarantine centres. We will schedule the timetable based on the COVID-19 situation in particular areas,” Mr. Samant said.
‘Govt. stance rigid’
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, claiming that it was playing with the future of students on the whims of one young leader in the State Cabinet. Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said, “When the Supreme Court has ruled that the final year examinations must be held, why is the Uddhav Thackeray government and the Yuva Sena [led by State Minister Aaditya Thackeray] bent upon their rigid, one-sided stance? We welcome the apex court’s decision and its rejection of petitions calling for final year exams to be cancelled.”
In a thinly veiled criticism of Mr. Aaditya Thackeray, Mr. Fadnavis said VCs across the country and the State had consistently held the view that students could not be promoted without conducting the exams and degrees thus conferred would be devoid of any value.
“The government did not consult with anyone before deciding on cancelling exams. Even though students’ health is important, their educational health is equally important. All this was done for the sake of one organisation,” said BJP MLA Ashish Shelar, without naming Mr. Aaditya Thackeray.
Mr. Samant rubbished the allegations saying such comments are the bread and butter of the Opposition. “Our stand was to safeguard the health of students. Now, we will work as ordered by the court,” he said, adding that the option of filing a review petition has not yet been discussed with the CM.
Reacting to the verdict, Mr. Aaditya Thackeray tweeted, “As Yuva Sena, we welcome the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The Hon’ble SC has upheld our most important point: to uphold the decision of Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority. The Hon’ble SC has reiterated that it is upto the respective State Governments to decide on when and how to hold examinations, not at the insistence of the 30th September deadline of the UGC. The Yuva Sena stands firmly for the well being and good health of the students, teachers, non teaching staff and their families (sic).”
(With inputs from Shoumojit Banerjee)