The Madras High Court on Tuesday issued an interim injunction forbearing all universities in the State from declaring all students as having passed, with respect to arrears too, without conducting examinations, either through the online or the offline mode, or a combination of both.
A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha passed the interim order on a public interest litigation petition filed by advocate B. Ramkumar Adityan of Thoothukudi, and adjourned the case to January 11 for further hearing.
In his affidavit, the lawyer accused some universities of declaring “all pass”, in accordance with a Government Order (G.O.) issued on August 26, cancelling arrear examinations of all arts, science, engineering and Master of Computer Application students, except for those pursuing the final year of their courses.
He pointed out that the G.O. had been challenged by him as well as E. Balagurusamy, former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University, through separate writ petitions, and, hence, the universities should not be permitted to declare the students as having cleared the arrears, without writing the exams.
During the hearing on Tuesday, University Grants Commission (UGC) counsel V. Sudha told the court that the students would not be given course completion certificates if they do not clear the arrears by appearing for examinations.
She said that the UGC had never allowed any university to cancel the examinations.
On his part, advocate E. Vijay Anand, representing Mr. Balagurusamy, said the government had no authority, whatsoever, to order cancellation of examinations, since the subject fell squarely within the domain of individual universities. Yet, no university had conducted arrear examinations so far, he pointed out.
Concurring with him, the judges wanted to know how the universities could be forced to cancel the examinations by way of a G.O. “Let not the benevolence of freebies go into the education system too,” the senior judge in the Bench said.
In reply, Special Government Pleader E. Manoharan said the decision to cancel the examinations was taken purely in the interest of saving the lives of students, since the number of COVID-19 cases was on the rise at that point of time. He asserted that there was no other intention.
Appreciating the efforts taken by the government and frontline workers to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the State, Justice Sathyanarayanan said the examinations could be conducted now, since the situation had improved. He asked the Special Government Pleader to obtain instructions from the Higher Education Department by January 11. The judges also ordered that the next hearing would take place, through the physical mode, since some students had reportedly recorded the virtual court proceedings.
The judges took exception to the virtual court proceedings having been livestreamed too, on YouTube, in their anxiety to know the result of the present cases, and warned the students of being subjected to contempt of court proceedings.