Covid-19 has become airborne: Rejoinder to UGC reply in Supreme Court
New Delhi: After the University Grants Commission (UGC) informed the Supreme Court it would stick to the schedule of conducting final-year examinations before September 30, in a counter-affidavit the lead petitioner in the case claimed almost no real or virtual classes had been conducted in the last 4-5 months in most colleges across the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and yet the UGC was adamant on holding examinations.
The rejoinder to the UGC reply, filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, said, “The respondent UGC has failed to take into account that the Covid-19 has been found to be airborne and there is strong possibility of the final-year students getting infected while appearing in examinations.”
Srivastava said one of the 31 petitioners to the apex court was Covid-19 patient and he feared losing job/admission opportunities by opting for the “special examination” option at a later date.
“As almost no real or virtual classes have been conducted during the last 4-5 months, it’s extremely unfair and unjust on the part of the respondent No. 1 UGC to conduct examinations, even without conducting classes,” he said.
The UGC had also failed to take into account the fact that many states had already announced complete lockdown, he added.
“Many big cities have several containment zones. Free movement of students will be restricted and will cause a lot of harassment. Most importantly, there is non-availability of free air/rail/bus/other transport movement in many parts of the country,” Srivastava said in the counter-affidavit.
The UGC submitted in the apex court that it was not possible to alter the July 6 guidelines, mandating universities to conduct final-year examinations by the end of September.
The UGC said the expert committee, headed by Prof R.C. Kuhad, had recommended that terminal semester examinations should be conducted by universities/institutions by the end of September.
The UGC approved the report on July 6. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs had also permitted the examination schedule, it said.
“The UGC has issued guidelines to protect the students’ academic future, which will be irreparably damaged if the final-year/terminal examinations are not held, and also keeping in mind their health and safety,” said the academic regulator.