MHRD seeks transfer of several Petitions challenging UGC Deemed University Regulations, 2010 to SC

University Grants Commission in the year 2010, has notified University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010, which was made applicable to prospective as well as existing Deemed Universities.   Several Deemed Universities had challenged the provisions of the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010 in different High Courts in India. The Deemed Universities felt that the Regulations interfered with the autonomy of the Institutions. The Regulations also in their view placed unreasonable restriction on rules relating to governance, admission, fee structure etc.

The Deemed Universities based in Tamilnadu made the first challenge. Though initially STATUS-QUO was granted in the matter, but later by a detailed Judgement, the challenge by Deemed Universities based in Tamilnadu was over ruled and the legality and validity of University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 was upheld. The Deemed Universities in Tamilnadu later challenged the Judgement pronounced by Single Judge before Division Bench. The matter is pending for determination before the Division Bench, however the Court has ordered that STATUS QUO will be maintained.

Following the suit, certain Deemed Universities in Karnataka also challenged the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 in Karnataka High Court. In some of the Petition there, stay was granted on the Regulations and some the Court was pleased to order STATUS QUO in favour of the Petitioner as against UGC and MHRD. Later vide detailed Judgement dated 22.05.2014 the Hon’ble Court declared University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010, was declared to be invalid and unconstitutional. UGC and MHRD have both filed appeals independently against the Judgement before Division Bench.

One of the challenge was also filed before Punjab & Haryana High Court. Though no interim orders have been passed in the case, the matter is pending determination in the Court.

While Interim Stay was prevailing, UGC continued to amend the Regulations from time to time, which raised a critical issue as to, did UGC had the legal competency to amend the Regulations, while Courts in India hearing cases relating to challenge and Interim Order restraining UGC from enforcing the Regulations were prevailing.

MHRD has now filed Transfer Petitions before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Transfer Petition (Civil) Nos. 1555-1561 of 2014 seeking transfer of all the cases relating to challenge to University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 before Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.

The Transfer Petition were called before the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 11.11.2014. The Supreme Court adjourned these matter on request of the Government to 18.11.2014. The matter is now scheduled to come up before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 03.02.2015.

EduLegaL View

University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 applies to all the Deemed Universities. Different High Courts in India took different view of the Regulations resulting in conflict as regards its validity and applicability, as one High Court said it is valid and another said it is invalid. It is appropriate that considering the universal applicability of the Regulations, the Highest Court of the country rules on its validity and legality, so that issue is settled once and for all.

But till then, the arguments will continue !!!!

Educational Institutions exempted from seeking Environmental Clearance

Govt. of India has vide Notification published on 22nd December 2014 has exempted Educational Institutions [Schools, Colleges, Hostels] from seeking Environmental Clearance, however maintaining a sustainable balance with a rider that the Educational Institutions would ensure compliance with environmental management, solid and liquid waste Management, rain water harvesting and adopting recyclable material and procedures.

Post the enactment of Environmental Protection Act, in the year 1986, Government of India had vide Notification dated 27th January 1994 had laid down certain norms and conditions for undertaking construction considering the possible impact on the ecological balance.

Later, acting in accordance with the National Environment Policy as approved by the Union Cabinet on 18th May, 2006 and the procedure specified in the notification, Government of India decided to amend the rules laid down in Notification of 27th January 1994 and published a draft Notification on 15thSeptember 2005 proposing to impose certain restrictions and prohibitions on new projects or activities, or on the expansion or modernization of existing projects or activities based on their potential environmental impacts unless prior environmental clearance has been accorded in accordance with National Environment Policy.

The draft Notification came to Notified on 14.09.2006 which provided that any construction activity which is more than 2,00,000 sq. ft., cannot be undertaken without prior Environmental Clearance of the appropriate authorities. This limitation was further expanded to include a construction project, which has “potential” of total construction of more than 2,00,000 sq. ft. Educational Institutions were also covered within the scope of the construction project.

Green Clearance had its own share of controversy as the permissions were delayed inordinately either due to cumbersome procedure or due to variable technical reasons. It affected the academic cycle of an educational institute as delay of even few months meant admission could not be done for a particular academic session. Several Court rulings had laid down adherence to strict time lines for commencement and conclusion of an academic calendar.

Later this year, on 13th September 2014, Government of India published a draft Notification seeking to further amend the earlier Notification of 14thSeptember 2006 and inviting objections from the affected parties.

Finally, vide Notification dated 22nd December 2014, though maintaining the requirement of Environmental Clearance for Building or Construction projects or Area Development projects and Townships, it excluded school, college, hostel for educational institution [covering built area less than 1,50,000 mts. and/or land area less then 50 ha] from the definition of projects or activities but prescribed that such building shall ensure sustainable environmental management, solid and liquid waste management, rain water harvesting and may use recycled materials such as fly ash bricks.

EduLegaL View:

This is certainly a significant progressive step in easing the green norms. A standard educational institution with basic facilities and amenities generally crossed the benchmark and had to wait for green clearance earlier. Now, the Educational Institutions, unlike other sectors, which heavily depend on a particular time cycle for its activities would really stand benefitted.

Achhe Din for Educational Institutions !!! / 020-30462697