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December 08, 2020 Tuesday 11:25:15 AM IST

How to conduct exams under Covid protocol

Policy Indications

Universities should ensure that examinations are conducted as per Covid-19 protocol to ensure the safety, health and well-being of participants. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has given the discretion to the universities to conduct exams in either the offline mode or online or a blend of both.

In a recent ruling on a batch of writ petitions filed before the High Court of Kerala by the students of APJ Abdul Kalam University, it was contended that it was not prudent on the part of the University to  conduct of exams through the offline mode and that they ought to have scheduled them only through the online mode. Students argued that University has disregarded those instructions of the UGC and have chosen unilaterally to conduct the exams only in the physical mode thus putting the health of large number of students at risk. They prayed for interdicting the scheduled exams and directing the University to conduct the same only through the online mode.

The University submitted before the Court that the apprehensions of the students are wholly without any cause as the whole of the country is now opening up and learning to live with the Covid-19 pandemic. It was pointed out that going by the Standard Operating Protocols (SOPs) and other Health Advisories published by the Central and State Governments, examinations in the physical form are allowed to be conducted, as long as all the applicable diligence under the said protocols are scrupulously adhered to. All the health advisories and SOPs recommended by the regulatory agencies are directed to be strictly followed and the heads of institutions were requested to contact the District Administration/Health Departments for any assistance in this regard.

On behalf of the State it was stated that it is in the interest of the students also that examinations are conducted at the earliest, so that they can pursue their future prospectus without having to wait indefinitely. The UGC also supported the case of the University.

The High Court observed that if the Court was to interdict the examinations in any manner at this stage, the preparation and hope of thousands of other students, who have raised no objection to the conduct of the examinations in 'off-line', would be severely impaired. Therefore the petitions were disposed off and the University was directed to ensure that the exams in the physical mode are conducted without any avoidable risks implicitly ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of every participant by adopting the mandatory social distancing norms and the best health practices as are stipulated by the Central State Governments respectively. The Court also recorded the assurance given by the University they will conduct further examinations within 3 months and that any student who are unable to take the examinations now, will be permitted to do so as per the extant Rules. 

P S Antony

P.S ANTONY ,District Judge (Retd.) & Senior Faculty Bharata  Mata School of Legal Studies , Aluva

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