Bombay high court

MUMBAI: Bombay high court on Tuesday directed the University Grants Commission to be made party to a public interest litigation that seeks quashing of the state government’s decision to issue degrees to over 10 lakh final year students of professional and non-professional courses by giving average marks based on their past performance.
A bench of justices Amjad Sayed and Makarand Karnik, via video conference, heard the PIL by Dhananjay Kulkarni, a retired teacher and an ex-senate member from Pune, that said Maharashtra government has no power to take such decision. Kulkarni challenged the June 19, 2020 government resolution saying under Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016 the chancellor has overall jurisdiction and the state has no power to take a decision about the exams.
On April 27, 2020 UGC directed all universities to conduct exams and declared its schedule. However after a student organisation wrote to the minister of Higher and Technical Education, the exams were postponed. The PIL states that the GR gives options to students to opt for exams or take the results based on average marks of their past performance. However this creates an “artificial classification” between students and violates Article 14 (Right to Equality)
According to the GR, there are 7, 34,516 students of non-professional courses and 2,83,947 students of professional courses in the final year.
Government pleader Priyabhushan Kakade with assistant GP Nisha Mehra, sought time to take instructions. But Kulkarni’s advocate Uday Warunjikar urged for an earlier date “Already from April there is a complete mess. What is the fate of students in the last year? Students are not aware,” he said.
Warunjikar also said not a single university has issued last year’s mark sheets to students He said while UGC has directed that exams have to be held before September end, “the academic calendar will have changed and the new academic year will start.” The judges took note that UGC is not a party respondent and allowed the PIL to be amended to join it. They posted the next hearing on July 17.

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