West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday invoked a provision of the Disaster Management Act to postpone final year examinations of universities and colleges amid the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. The exams will not be held in September, she said.
Addressing a virtual meet to celebrate the foundation day of Trinamool Chhatra Parishad, Mamata said, "It is not possible to hold an examination in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Education Minister Partha Chatterjee would consult all state run universities and colleges to formulate a plan whether online or offline final year examinations can be conducted before Durga Puja or not.”
She directed the education minister, present at the event, to consult the concerned parties before taking a decision and inform the students within a week.
"On April 29, the UGC had asked not to hold examinations but on July 11, they sent another letter asking the states to conduct the college exams. What is going on?" Mamata questioned.
The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the University Grants Commission's (UGC) decision to have final year exams conducted by September 30.A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that there was no infirmity in the July 6, 2020 circular that asked universities across the country to complete final year exams by the said deadline.
It also maintained that states and universities will have to hold exams to promote students and confer degrees, and that internal assessments will not suffice the requirements of the UGC.
About the decision taken by some states to not conduct exams by September 30, the bench held that although the states will be authorised to postpone exams under the Disaster Management Act, they will not be able to confer degrees on students without exams.
The top court further said that the states should approach the UGC with their problems and ask for suitable relief measures regarding the final year exams.
On holding NEET and JEE examinations, Mamata took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, "Students are suffering but there is a person who is busy in 'Mann ki Baat'. Is he bothered about the 'Mann ki Baat' of students.”
The West Bengal chief minister has expressed serious concerns over Centre’s decision to hold terminal examination for various courses in colleges and universities and to conduct NEET, JEE amid the pandemic.
Disapproving of the move, Mamata had tweeted, "In our last video conference with the Hon’ble PM Shri@narendramodi Ji, I had been vocal against the UGC guidelines mandating completion of terminal examinations in Universities/Colleges by the end of September 2020, which had a huge potential to put student lives at risk.”
She further said, "Now with the directive of @EduMinOfIndia to conduct NEET, JEE 2020 in Sep, I would again appeal to the Centre to assess the risk and postpone these examinations until the situation is conducive again. It is our duty to ensure a safe environment for all our students.”
“We along with other states on Friday have already submitted a plea before the Supreme Court to reconsider the decision to hold NEET and JEE examination in this crisis,” Mamata said.