Madras HC orders TN govt to conduct arrear exams online within 8 weeks

The state government, on August 26, had cancelled arrear exams for all students except those who have arrears in their final year.
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The Madras High Court ordered the Tamil Nadu government to conduct the cancelled arrear exams for college students within eight weeks. The state government had submitted that the exams will be conducted in online mode. According to reports, the order came on the batch of petitions including those filed by former Vice Chancellor of Anna University E Balagurusamy and advocate Ram Kumar Adithan. In the previous hearing, the court had condemned Tamil Nadu government’s decision to announce that students who have arrears as having passed without making them write exams.

During the hearing on Thursday, the state government told the court that the second wave of coronavirus is ‘out of control’ in Tamil Nadu. Reports also stated that Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan is likely to meet the Chief Justice of Madras High Court later on Thursday. Recording the submissions of the state government about the coronavirus situation in the state, the court ordered that the exams be conducted within eight weeks and that the state government shall consult with the University Grants Commission (UGC) on the guidelines to be followed for these exams.

The issue pertains to a government order passed on August 26, in which the state government cancelled arrear exams for students in Arts, Science, Engineering and Computer Application (masters) programmes, except those in their final years. The government had announced that all students who have arrears (except in their final years) and have paid the fees to write the exams will be declared ‘pass’ due to the COVID-19 situation. This was opposed by several people including Balagurusamy and Ram Kumar Adithan, who petitioned the court against the order. In his petition, Balagurusamy had called the order cancelling the exams ‘illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory and against the principal (sic) of natural justice’. He also alleged that the state government’s announcement will lower the standards of education of the students and the universities and has demoralised the students who have worked hard to pass their exams. “The performance in examination gives confidence and satisfaction to the students and is a reflection of competence, performance and credibility that is necessary for the global acceptability,” his plea stated.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) had also refused to accept the state government’s order. It said that the order was in violation of the norms stipulated by the University Grants Commission (UGC). AICTE also told the court that it cannot give degrees to students who have not cleared arrears and added that it has not issued any exemption for students with backlogs in terms of exams. The court, on October 7, noted that the GO issued by the state government violates the AICTE’s guidelines.

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