A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Patnaik ordered the government to maintain status quo with regard to the institutions. It asked the universities to file their response by March 8, the next date of hearing.
The bench asked the government on Monday to file the entire report of the task force, the procedure adopted to recommend derecognition as well as its stand on the issue. It also sought the earlier report of the UGC on the basis of which the “erring colleges were granted “deemed” status.
Assuring students and the universities, the bench said: “Presently our anxiety is what will happen to all those students. Public interest is paramount. When the matter is before court, the government cannot do anything. We ourselves want to look into it. If there is any violation of the principles of natural justice, we will look into it. Rest assured, nothing will happen to your institutions and your students till we dispose the matter.”
Attorney General G E Vahanvati’s comment that he did not want “cacophony” in the court prompted senior lawyer Dushayant Dhave to retort, saying it was not cacophony “but anguished citizens’ grievance.”
The bench reacted: “You are a senior counsel, please behave yourselves. There has to be a limit. Don’t test our patience.”
Appearing for the Union Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry, Vahanvati sought two weeks to file a comprehensive reply on the issue. He said the government was fully conscious of the uncertainties that the students studying in these universities might face.
Accordingly, the affidavit would contain the Centre’s well-considered steps to ensure that the students “are not affected.” The Centre had suggested that these “deemed universities” be affiliated to state universities.
In their submissions, senior advocates like Fali Nariman and K K Venugopal, representing the affected institutions, said the government order on withdrawing recognition was arbitrary and unconstitutional. They said the Centre’s move would wreak havoc not only on the academic world but also the student community.