SC asks Union govt to review working of deemed varsitiesAsks UGC to withdraw 'university' from their name

The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Central government to review the status of deemed universities, citing "flagrant violation of norms and policies" by the institutions.

The top court also directed CBI probe against officials for allowing four deemed universities in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Allahabad to conduct BE/BTech courses through distance education. It ordered the degrees so awarded after 2001-05 academic session to be cancelled and any job benefits accrued to be withdrawn. Those who had obtained degrees between 2001-05 would have to face re-exam in May-June 2018.

The top court also ordered the University Grants Commission (UGC) to restrain these institutions from using the word 'university' within one month.

The court directed the government to form a three-member committee to suggest a road map for strengthening the institutions and set up an oversight and regulatory mechanism within six months.

It restrained all deemed universities from continuing courses in distance education mode from the academic year 2018-2019, unless and until specifically permitted. The court also ruled that engineering courses cannot be run by the deemed universities through distance education mode without guidelines and approvals from the AICTE.

Passing a slew of directions, a bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit said the extent of commercialisation of education seriously affected credibility and standards, eroding the power and essence of knowledge and seriously affecting excellence and merit.

"It has come to our notice that many institutions which are conferred the status of Deemed to be Universities are using the word "University", which in our view is opposed to the spirit of Section 23 of the UGC Act. The UGC shall take appropriate steps to stop such practice," the bench said.

In its 118-page judgement highlighting lack of effective oversight and regulatory mechanism for "the Deemed to be Universities", the apex court said, "The UGC has completely failed to remedy the situation. Serious question has, therefore, arisen as to the manning of the UGC itself for its effective working."

Relying upon then UGC chairman Ved Prakash's affidavit that disclosed how permissions were granted to deemed universities to introduce courses without any authority, the bench said, "On one hand, the authorities were proclaiming their policy statements and on the other, despite there being complaints, they went about granting permissions. Their conduct and approach is difficult to explain on any rational basis and leaves much to be desired."

The court directed CBI probe against officials for allowing deemed universities Vinayaka Mission's Research Foundation, Salem, Tamil Nadu, IASE Gandhi Vidya Mandir, Sardarshahr, Rajasthan, JRN Vidyapeeth Udaipur, Rajasthan and Allahabad Agriculture Research Institute, Allahabad to run BE/BTech courses through distance education. It also ordered for cancellation of the degrees awarded to candidates after academic session 2001-05 and recalling of any consequent job benefits derived by them.

It directed the UGC to consider whether deemed university status enjoyed by JRN, AAI, IASE and VMRF called for withdrawal.

Appeals

The top court directed for suspending the degrees awarded to students by the four universities between 2001 and 2005. It ordered the AICTE to conduct test for such students between May-June 2018 and if the students failed in the test, their degrees shall be recalled. If they do not wish to appear in the test, their fees would have to be refunded and any benefit in job availed by them on the basis of the degrees would stand withdrawn, the court said.

The issue has arisen before the apex court in a batch of civil appeals against Orissa and Punjab and Haryana High Court judgements. The Orissa HC had approved engineering degrees awarded to serving diploma holders through 'Off-Campus Study Centres' but the Punjab and Haryana HC took a contrary view.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry