SC brings hope to deemed varsities facing derecognition

Apex court cites conflict between UGC and Tandon reports

As many as 44 deemed universities, facing the prospect of de-recognition since 2009, have received a fresh lease of life as the Supreme Court directed the University Grant Commission (UGC) to take an independent view on their status after examining various panel reports.

The government-appointed P N Tandon committee had reportedly recommended de-notifying the deemed university status to these institutions in 2009 in view of various deficiencies against the laid down parameters on infrastructure and others. The apex court had earlier directed the status quo with regard to their continuance.

In a latest order on Tuesday, the apex court noted that in view of the conflict between the report prepared by the UGC and Tandon, the higher education body must take a fresh look at their status after listening to the institutions.

“We feel it appropriate to give a direction to the UGC to examine all the reports, with notice to all the 44 institutions concerned. Institutions are free to raise their objections against the reports and the UGC has to consider the same and take an independent decision in accordance with law, if necessary, after affording a hearing, within a period of two months,” the bench said.

The court ordered that the UGC would submit its report to the central government, which would take a final view.

As UGC is an expert statutory body, its advice would be accorded due weight but still it would not be binding on the centre, the court added.

According to the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010, the central government and the UGC can carry out an inspection of the institutions deemed to be university.

“We have now two parallel inquiries, one conducted by the UGC directly and another conducted by the Central government through Tandon. But we find that UGC had no occasion to examine the Tandon Committee report. Further, we also notice that there is another report of the Committee of officers, which has also not been placed before the UGC,” the bench noted.

In its report to the Human Resources Ministry, P N Tandon, emeritus professor of neuro-surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, and comprising Goverdhan Mehta, a former director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Anandakrishnan, former vice chancellor of Anna Technical University, Chennai; and Prof Mrinal Miri, former vice chancellor of North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, made the de-recognition recommendation of these universities.

The panel had reportedly indicted the 44 varsities for “thoughtless introduction” of new study programmes beyond their mandate and failing to engage in any meaningful research activity.

During the hearing, government counsel submitted that no final decision has been taken by the central government, either on the basis of the report of the UGC or that of Prof Tandon’s report. Different senior counsel, representing those varsities, submitted that they had complied with the statutory requirements laid down under the Medical Council of India Act, Dental Council of India Act, and others.

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