SC breather for 44 deemed universities

Centre to review its derecognition decision
Last Updated 11 January 2011, 19:37 IST

In an order, a Supreme Court division bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma said: “If some (institutions) fail  to qualify to be a deemed university then what would be the status of the students? We do not want the future of these students (to be left) in the lurch.”

Delivering its order after recording a statement by Attorney General G Vahanvati that the government would reconsider its decision and each of the 44 deemed universities would be issued fresh notices pointing out their deficiencies, as outlined in the P D Tandon committee report, the court said, “In the garb that they offer two or more additional courses, they cannot be denied their deemed university status.”

The committee, set up in July 2009 by the Centre to probe deficiencies in infrastructure, faculty and other facilities of the institutions claiming deemed university status, submitted its report to the Human Resource Development Ministry in October 2009. The committee had recommended stripping some of the deemed universities of the status on the ground that they had emerged as “personal fiefdoms” of their promoters and had become purely commercial ventures.

Vahanvati told the court that after the government received their replies, the institutions would be given personal hearing and, if necessary, would be inspected before the Bench passed an order. The attorney general’s statement came after the Bench asked him to check with the government if it was willing to give another opportunity to these 44 universities to set their house in order.

Asking Vahanvati to submit a report by April 25, the Bench gave the Centre two weeks to issue notices and two more weeks to the universities to reply. The next hearing is scheduled for May 3. Pointing out that its earlier order of status quo would continue, the Bench changed the word “order” in the attorney general’s statement on the objection of senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan who told the court that the word reflected an authority and involved an element of legal finality.

The court had passed the status quo order in January 2010, restraining the Centre from withdrawing deemed status until it decided on a batch of petitions by aggrieved managements challenging the government’s move as “arbitrary and illegal.”

Petitioner Viplab Sharma’s counsel Sanjay Hedge told the Bench that the 44 universities had not complied with the court’s earlier order that they should inform every student taking admission about the status of their case before the apex court.

The Supreme Court has been hearing since 2006 a plea seeking strict regulation of deemed universities. The Centre, while proposing derecognition of these universities, had assured the court that it would protect the interests of over two lakh students who would be affected by the derecognition move.

During an earlier hearing, the Bench had asked the state governments whether they would grant affiliation to these universities in case the Centre derecognised them.

(Published 11 January 2011, 14:57 IST)

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