New Delhi: Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing a student petition against University Grants' Commission's circular to conduct exams before September 30, said that the matter concerns students' Right to Life.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Justices M.R. Shah, Justice Ashok Bhushan, and Justice R. Subhash Reddy, was hearing petitions filed by 31 students against the UGC who sought cancellation of the UG and PG final year exams.
Adv Manu Singh said that the court must look at Article 14 of the Indian constitution. "Different students have different accessibility to these exams. Exams are not an end in itself, and should happen after teaching," he added.
He further added that the recent circular by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Unlock 3.0 has cited that educational institutions should remain closed until August 31. He said, "In no circular of the MHA were students warned that they would have to give the exams."
The advocate also stated that education is not special, but the pandemic is.
Referring to previous circulars of the UGC, Singhvi said that the body had previously been understanding and empathetic towards students. " The pandemic is state-neutral, political colour-neutral, people-neutral," he added.
Advocate Shyam Divan further said that the UGC advisory should be tailored to fit local needs, and not become a compulsion for states to follow.
He added, "On April 29, there were 1137 COVID positive cases. We could not hold the exams then. How can we have them now, with lakhs of cases. The pandemic is only increasing in intensity."
The matter will further be heard on Tuesday, August 18.
(With inputs from LiveLaw)