Maharashtra Governor Hits Out at CM's Decision to Cancel Final Year University Exams

In an open confrontation, Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Tuesday criticised the Uddhav Thackeray-led state government's decision to cancel final year university examinations on account of coronavirus outbreak.

The decision would jeopardise the future of students, he said in a letter to Chief Minister Thackeray.

He also asserted that the chancellor of universities -- a position which governor holds ex-officio -- has the final authority over all university matters as per the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, an official statement said.

In the letter, Koshyari said the decision regarding holding of examinations of final year students should be be taken "in consonance with the provisions of the Act.

He was "surprised" to learn through media reports that the CM had declared that "no examinations shall be conducted this year", Koshyari said.

"Describing the announcement of the cancellation of examinations by the chief minister as "unprecedented" and made "without any profound thinking on the legal repercussions", the governor remarked that the decision, if implemented, would jeopardise the future of students," the statement said.

Even though the Committee of Vice Chancellors constituted by the Minister for Higher and Technical Education to analyse the situation and to explore various options available to conduct the examinations had given its report to the department's secretary on May 6, the same "had not been presented to him till date", Koshyari wrote.

During his video conference with vice chancellors, all the VCs had communicated willingness for conducting examinations, he said.

The governor stated he had clearly mentioned that the chancellors office shall give further directions after accepting the recommendations of the committee partially or fully once the report was received by him, the statement said.

"The arbitrary decision has violated the basic principle that to obtain an identical degree, there cannot be two sets of criteria, one who has given examination and for the other who has obtained marks on average. The examinations cannot be made optional," the statement quoted the governor as saying.

Pointing out that students of medicine, architecture, law and other courses needed to register themselves with their respective professional bodies/councils to get the license to practice, the governor said these bodies may not be able to enrol the students without students being evaluated on established parameters.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had given approval to conduct examinations to various state boards and CBSE and ICSE were in the process of conducting their examinations in spite of the COVID-19 situation, Koshyari noted.

"The governor mentioned that the UGC and other Central authorities are of the view that the final year examination may not be dispensed with and, therefore, the state government should abide by UGC guidelines along with provisions of Maharashtra Universities Act, 2017," the statement said.

Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saaamana had said in its editorial that the governor insisted on holding the final year exams of degree students, but Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray rejected it, showing "the spine Thackerays are known for".