EduLegaL Analysis of the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016 : Big Positives, Few Drawbacks, Huge Confusion

UGC2The UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016 has replaced the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 and admittedly there are some positive departures.

Some of the salient features / new features of the New Regulations are:

A) Introduction/ recognition of NIRF: MHRD had launched National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF), last year and also declared the rankings in April this year though the participation in this framework was not substantive. The Regulations seek to recognise NIRF ranking as an eligibility criteria to be declared as a Deemed University. It prescribes that the proposing institution should be in top 20 in any specific category and in top 100 of overall ranking of NIRF.

B) Section 8 company can also be Deemed University: Section 8 companies are basically body corporates established under the Companies Act, 2013 established for charitable purposes. The new Regulations recognises that the proposed Deemed to be University can be a section 8 company which is a positive departure as earlier only Society or Trust were permitted.

C) Full disclosure regarding fee structure: The Regulation puts obligation on the Deemed University to declare its fees and charges in its prospectus and in its website. It also restricts the Universities from charging exorbitant entrance test fees other than recovering reasonable cost incurred in conducting the entrance test.

D) Compulsory publication of prospectus: It has directed all the Universities to publish its prospectus at least 2 months before commencement of classes, a prospectus detailing all the components of fees, refund rules, intake, eligibility criteria, process of selection, details of teaching faculty, ranking and accreditations, physical and academic facilities and infrastructure, syllabus, etc. The said information is also required to be published on the website.

E) Ban on misleading advertisements: The new Regulations has taken cognizance of the ill practice of publishing misleading claims in advertisements relating to recognition, facilities, infrastructure, performance and issued strict warning and instructed that not deemed to be University shall indulge in publishing such misleading claim.

F) Prescription of Timelines: The New Regulations seek to prescribe timelines for the processes involved in declaration of Deemed to be Universities / Grant of Off Campus Centres, which is a good initiative. However, there is no default consequence prescribed and hence the prescription of such timeline will only remain directory and not mandatory.

G) Introduction of Letter of Intent Scheme: The regulations have introduced the concept of Letter of Intent (LOI), which will prima facie indicate that the Deemed University has vested right to start an Off Campus / establish a Deemed University under De Novo Category, provided it starts the operations within 3 years of the issue of LoI.

H) Restriction on Off-Campus/es: No Deemed University shall be allowed to have an Off-Campus within the first 5 years of its operations. However, beyond that it can established 2 off-campuses in any period of 5 years.

I) Academic Reforms: Institutions, under the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) can have a credit exchange matrix with other UGC recognized institutions for the benefit of their students. It has been mandated that such institutions will review the syllabus every 3 years at least. Industry collaborations and research projects would not need specific approval of the UGC nor would be for new departments in core subjects for which the institution was established.

J) Infrastructure: Some relaxation in the infrastructure requirememts has been made considering that land has been expensive and also is not available easily in abundance. There will be barrier free access for specially abled students in all places. There will also be adequate health care facilities for students, staff and faculty within the campus.

K) Generally speaking otherwise, the provisions of the earlier Regulations have been continued. The other mandatory Regulations like Ragging Regulations, Gender Sensitization, Sexual Harassment Regulations have again been made mandatory through these Regulations.

Sponsoring Society / Government vis-a-vis Deemed University Reforms

Role, Authority and Limitations of Sponsoring Society / Government in a Deemed University has been the major point of struggle between the Deemed Universities and the Government. UGC Regulations of 2010 limited the role of Sponsoring Society to a bare minimum, resulting in litigations in various High Courts, challenging the validity of the UGC Regulations of 2010. Still the proceedings are pending in various High Courts. In fact Karnataka High Court has declared the Regulations to be unconstitutional. Madras High Court has upheld the same, but status-quo has been maintained by the Appellate Court.

The New Regulations has made substantive and positive attempt to reduce this conflict, let us see how:

A) Government Nomination on Board/Council of Deemed University: Earlier, there was a nominee of Central Government to be appointed in consultation with UGC. Similar provision was also for Finance Committee. Under the new Regulations, Government Nomination is restricted only to such Universities, which are controlled and managed by Government or receiving grants more than or equal to 50 % of its expenditure. In all other cases, now UGC will have a nominee.

B) Increased Representation of Sponsoring Society in Deemed University: Under the old Regulations, number of nominees of Sponsoring Society on the Board of Management was limited to maximum of two members. Under the new Regulations, the nomination strength has been increased to four members.

C) President of the Society can be Chancellor of Deemed University: Under the old Regulations, it was mandatorily prohibited that President of the Sponsoring Society or his/her close relatives cannot be Chancellor of the Deemed University. Such restriction has been done away with in the new Regulations, restriction being that the person should be a distinguished academician and the maximum term that he can enjoy is 2 term of 5 years.

D) Provision for Pro-Chancellor: This is an interesting creation in the new Regulations. The Sponsoring Body can also appoint a Pro-Chancellor, who would discharge the function of Chancellor, in his / her absence.

Drawbacks / Regressive Provisions:

Though, honestly admitting it has certainly made few positive departures, but it also has some drawbacks:

A) Restriction on using the word “University”: Though the new Regulations has reformed to some extent this regressive clause, which was also existing in the earlier Regulations, but denying a Deemed University to use “University” as a suffix to its name is certainly regressive. The only consolatory departure being that the expression “deemed to be University” can be used after the name. Not Done !

B) Restriction on conducting Distance Education Programme: It bars Institutions declared as Deemed Universities under or after the Old Regulations to conduct Distance Education programmes. Surprisingly, it says that Institutions, which were conducting such programme can continue to operate. There is no reasonable justification for this disadvantageous distinction. This is arbitrary !

C) Distinction between Government and Private Deemed Universities: One can understand concessions / exemptions in financial incurring when it comes to a Government Deemed University. But at many places unreasonable favour has been given to a Government Deemed University over a Private Deemed University like number / restriction on off-campuses, which are purely academic matters and which should be judged on level grounds.

Confusion and the Chaos

The New Regulations, has also left some confusion and chaos in the Regulatory Regime of Deemed Universities.

A) We all know scores of litigations are pending challenging the Old Regulations on various grounds. In fact considering the diverse geography of challenge and universal applicability of the Regulations, MHRD has preferred Transfer Petition before the Supreme Court. Some of the grounds of challenge has been accepted and remedial provisions included. But some still continue. So what happens to those litigations and the transfer petitions. Will it partially survive or a fresh petition will have to be filed. A Delhi High Court Judgement has also quashed the earlier guidelines. Now the situation is earlier Guidelines are quashed, the Old Regulations are quashed, the New Regulations continues with many of the provisions, which were in the quashed Regulations. So what to follow? I wish Government should have come with clarity on all these issues!

B) There is another huge confusion on applicability of the New Regulations to the old proposals. Though the master provision says that the New Regulations will be applicable, but at the same time it also says that Deemed University should undertaking to that effect and should comply with the Regulations within 2 years. What is a Deemed University denies to file this Undertaking? or takes a stand that many of the provisions are quashed in the earlier Regulations and hence cannot be complied with as it will be illegal. I do not have an answer, the only answer being that there is no clarity !

C) What about the GHOST OF TANDON. They should have clearly denounced Tandon Committee, which involves fate of more than 50 deemed universities today. A clarity would have rest so many issues to rest especially regarding expansion of deemed universities.

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

 

 

UGC Notifies New Deemed University Regulations, replaces 2010 Regulations

ugcUGC, with a view to regulate the process of declaration of institutions as deemed to be universities and to prevent institutions of dubious quality from being so declared so that quality of higher education imparted by Deemed Universities is maintained and is consistent with the ideals of the concept of a university, has notified the New Regulations, replacing the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010 and its subsequent amendments.

UGC has invoked powers conferred on it by Section 26[1] [f] and [g] to frame and notify the New Regulations. The Regulations shall apply to apply to every institution seeking declaration as an institution deemed to be university under the Act as also, albeit prospectively, to an institution which has been declared as an institution deemed to be university under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956.

A Copy of the New Regulations : UGC [Institutions Deemed to be University] Regulations, 2016

 

 

SC issues Notice to Deemed Universities on Transfer Petition by MHRD relating to Deemed University Regulations, 2010

Supreme Court has issued Notice to Deemed Universities on a Transfer Petition filed by MHRD relating to transfer of Appeal filed by MHRD challenging the judgement passed by Karnataka High Court dated 22.05.2014, which quashed the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 as ultravires to UGC Act, 1956 and Constitution of India.

University Grants Commission in the year 2010, has notified University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010. 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. Therefore, 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.

Tamilnadu

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.

Karnataka

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.

Punjab

One of the challenge was also filed before Punjab & Haryana High Court. The matter is pending consideration before the Hon’ble Court. Interim Order staying the Regulations have been passed.

Maharashtra [Aurangabad Bench]

Some of the Deemed Universities based in Maharashtra have also challenged the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010. Though as understood, no Interim Order has been passed in the matter.

Matter Sub-Judice- but UGC keeps amending these Regulations

While Interim Stay is prevailing in one High Court and another High Court has quashed the Regulations, 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 and the Regulations were quashed.

Transfer Petition in Supreme Court

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 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 was not listed thereafter for so many months.

Eventually, vide order dated 26.02.2014 and 29.03.2014 has issued notice on the Transfer Petition filed by MHRD. The notice is returnable in four weeks. The matter may now be listed on 29.04.2016.

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 again MHRD has take half-effort. It has filed transfer petition in respect of Petitions filed in Karnataka only and not in respect of petitions filed in other High Courts. This will again leave vacuum in the Regulatory Regime.

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

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

UGC constitutes Committee regarding unauthorized Off Campuses of Deemed Universities

UGC has decided to constitute a 5 Member Committee to consider the issue related to the off-campuses established/started by some Institutions Deemed to be Universities without prior approval of UGC/Ministry of HRD.

On November 9, 2015, UGC, Higher Education Regulatory Authority in the Country had issued Notices to 10 Deemed Universities directing them to close down their off-campus, which have not been permitted / approved by UGC / MHRD.

The Institutes, which received notices were Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies University, BITS, Pilani, Indian School of Mines-Dhanbad, Banasthali University (Rajasthan), Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Science & Technology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (UP) and Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education-Gwalior.

The Notice created furor in the academic circles as it involved career of many students pursuing their education and several of those who have graduated. All the concerned Deemed Universities protested the Notice and also met the concerned officials and expressed their grievance.

However, BITS Pilani went on aggressive pitch and filed a Petition challenging the closure order before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court. While seeking setting aside of the Order dated 09.11.2015, BITS, Pilani had also sought stay on the Notice. The Delhi High Court was pleased to direct the MHRD / UGC not to take any coercive step in the matter.

Later, by way of flaunted discrimination, an unauthorized off campus of a Government funded Deemed University was regularized.

UGC after considering the representation of all the concerned Deemed Universities has decided to constitute under the Chairmanship of Prof. H. Devaraj. Other members of the Committee are Prof. Mohammad Miyan, Prof. Sanjay Govind Dhande and Dr. K.N. Shanti.

As per UGC Deemed University Regulations, 2010 and Guidelines prevailing earlier, an Off Campus can be started only with the permission of UGC / MHRD as the case may be. It is the case of UGC / MHRD in respect of the stated Deemed Universities that no approval has been granted by UGC / MHRD and hence these campuses being illegal, should be shut down immediately.

EduLegaL View:

Another unfortunate example of historical functioning style, first create panic and chaos, then ask them to make representation and then appoint a Committee to look into the matter and then decide as it pleases you !

The action or rather ill-action of UGC was completely an ill-prepared action. After having given Deemed University/s “legitimate expectation” by not taking any action when they had full knowledge of existence of Off-Campus/es, UGC was disabled by principle of “promissory estoppel” from taking any action against the Deemed Universities much less abrupt closure of the running Institutions at the Off-Campus/es. But wisdom was not on their side and they took hasty decision.

The fate of the unfortunate order was known from the time it was issued and it has turned out to be as expected.

Ravi Bhardwaj | Founder & Principal Consultant, EduLegaL | mail@edulegal.in

UGC again amends the quashed / sub-judice Deemed University Regulations

University Grants Commission has again amended substantive provisions of UGC [Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 relating to appointment of Vice Chancellor and Off Campus Centre being run by Centrally funded Deemed Universities.

UGC [Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 were notified on 21.05.2010 on the basis of recommendations of Tandon Committee / Task Force constituted by MHRD. On notified, several Deemed Universities had challenged the constitutional validity of the Regulations in several High Courts.

Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka vide detailed Judgement dated 22.05.2014 had quashed the Regulations being unconstitutional. Madras High Court had upheld the validity, however, when the same was challenged, the judgement was stayed. Similarly litigations are pending in Punjab and Haryana High Court, Uttarakhand High Court, Bombay High Court [Aurangabad Bench]. Later, MHRD has filed Transfer Petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court seeking to transfer all the matters relating to the Regulations to Supreme Court, which is also pending.

In the recent amendment, UGC has enlarged the scope of Regulation 12, which relates to Off Campus Centres of Deemed Universities established and managed by Government. Originally as the Regulations stood, there was no restriction placed on the number of Off-Campus, being run by a Deemed University. Later by amendment in 2014, UGC had restricted the expansion of the DUs to limit the number of Off Campus Centre to maximum of Six Off Campuses beyond its geographical boundaries. However, by the amendment notified in 2016, UGC has removed the numerical restriction for Deemed Universities established and managed by Government.

Second amendment relates to appointment of Vice Chancellor, by which UGC has wisely undone the previous amendment and restored the original position. By the amendment in the year 2014, UGC had completely done away with the procedure prescribed in the earlier Regulations and prescribed that the process of selection of Vice Chancellor shall be in accordance with the UGC Minimum Qualification for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff Regulations, 2010. However, it has now taken a u-turn and restored the original position to specify that Chancellor shall make the appointment of Vice Chancellor from the 3 names recommended by the Selection Committee.

It further proceeds to prescribe different composition of Selection Committee for Institutions being completely funded by Central / State Government, being funded more than or equal to 50 % or being funded less than 50 % by providing nominees of MHRD / UGC, as the case may be.

EduLegaL View

It is a known fact that the removal of restriction as regards Off Campus Centre for Government Universities was mainly to accommodate several Government Deemed Universities, which were running illegal / unauthorized campuses.

Under our Constitution, discrimination is permitted, but then the grounds for discrimination has to be “reasonable”. I do not see any reasonability in discriminating against the private Deemed Universities and not allowing them to expand as much as Government Deemed Universities. The occasion and cause for amendment is also suspicious obviously to legalise the illegality by Government machinery.

UGC cannot also loose sight of the fact that the UGC Deemed Universities Regulations, 2010 has been declared unconstitutional and invalid by Hon’ble Karnataka High Court, while deciding bunch of Petitions filed by several Deemed Universities. Similarly there is STATUS QUO as respect the said Regulations in favour of several Deemed Universities by order of Hon’ble Madras High Court.

 The Argument can continue !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

UGC directs Deemed Universities / Institutions not to pay sitting fees to Govt. Nominees

UGC in its recent circular issued on 05th January 2016 has brought a sweeping change in age old system in Higher Educational Institutions of giving sitting fee allowance to the officials of the Ministry or attached institutions who are nominated as Government representatives in the institutions in various capacities and directed that Government Nominees on various board of Educational Institutions shall not be paid any sitting fees allowances directly.

MHRD realised that the nominated officers are attending these meetings only in their official capacity as Government nominee/nominee of Secretary or on. Ex-officio basis and it may not be appropriate to receive sitting fee for doing routine official work and directed UGC to issue necessary instructions.

Acting on the instructions of MHRD, UGC has issued this circular and asked all its Bureau Heads to communicate to the Institutions, which come within its purview that not to pay any sitting fee allowance to the officials of the Ministry or attached institutions who are nominated as government representatives in the Governance structure of these institutions such as board of management, board of Governors, Syndicate, Executive Council Finance Committee etc.

Further for Government nominees attending meetings in private institutions (such as deemed universities) UGC has directed the Deemed Universities to remit the sitting fee amount (due to govt. nominees) in the Consolidated Funds of India.

It is notable that by virtue of Clause 5.7 of the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010, there is a Nominee of Central Government on the Board of Management of a Deemed University. Similarly, there is a representative of a Central Government on Finance Committee of a Deemed University.

EduLegaL View:

This is a welcome move by UGC. Payment of “Sitting Allowance” to Government Officials for being nominee on Government Institutions was against the principles of “Office of Profit” for a Public Servant.

On the same lines, even if the Government Officials were functioning as “Nominee” for Private Institutions, then also they were discharging Government functions only and hence paying them for discharging government functions was amounting to “financial benefit”, which is not permissible. Therefore asking the Deemed Universities to deposit the sitting fees in Consolidated Funds of India is certainly an appropriate step.

You can read the Notification here.

Deemed Universities to be reviewed by UGC, Will it be Tandon Part- II?

It seems, healthy accreditation received by Deemed Universities by NAAC and a near sort of rejection of Tandon Committee by Supreme Court, has NOT gone well with UGC and it has again obviously acting on direction of MHRD decided to review the Deemed Universities.

No doubt, UGC, by virtue of UGC Act, 1956, the UGC Guidelines, 2000 and the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010, has the power to cause inspection of the Deemed Universities, but the timing of movement and instruction by MHRD is bit suspect.

Earlier, in 2009, MHRD had set Tandon Committee, which after board room presentation without visiting the Universities and causing physical inspection graded the Deemed Universities in 3 Categories: A, B and C. According to Tandon Committee, “A” category satisfied the criteria of Deemed University, “B” Category had some deficiencies and were given 3 years time to improve and “C” Category allegedly having failed the criteria were recommended to be de-recognised. The challenge to the Tandon Committee and its findings is pending in Supreme Court.

While the one battle is yet to get over, grounds for another have been prepared. According to reports appearing in Media, this review is to see whether the Universities are adhering to the relevant rules, regulations. Other possible criteria would obviously include physical infrastructure, academics, amenities and facilities, library, resources, research, patent, quality of faculty, etc.

UGC wants to make a point and distinguish the NAAC evaluation saying that NAAC evaluation is only restricted only to academic, whereas UGC evaluation moves beyond it to see the compliance of rules and regulations, as Deemed Universities are brought into existence by a executive charter with certain conditions and should meet global standards.

Infact, as a first step, UGC has started collecting information from the Deemed Universities regarding its courses, off-campuses and constituents. Some of Deemed Universities in Karnataka have also received the intimation for review.

 EduLegaL View

We need to understand the basic difference between “review” and “inspection”. It seems UGC and MHRD both are confusing their “power of inspection” with “power to review”.

While the former is a routine exercise to keep a check on quality and is generally a welcome step but the latter should come into operation only in exceptional circumstances and it goes to the very existence of the University and should necessitate when it is confirmed that the Deemed University has failed to come up to expectation. “Review” cannot be an exercise en-mass, it creates un-necessary fear in the mind of educational institutions.

Moreover the exercise of checking quality should also remain qualitative and should not become quantitative. We have NAAC, NBA and then recently NIRF has come and now this review has come, the regulators need to ask a question to themselves, is this right?

Whatever be the motive, if UGC and MHRD wants to do a serious exercise, then it should follow some scientific procedure and should resort to cine-popular trick of sequel making and make this entire exercise, Tandon Part – II.

 AGEY, AGEY DEKHTE HAIN HOTA HAI KYA …..

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

Deemed Universities must share information with State Government: MHRD

With a view to address the issue of difficulty faced by students of Deemed Universities regarding authentication of educational certificates by the State Government for the purpose of Higher Education or employment abroad, MHRD has directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to communicate to all the Deemed Universities and direct them to provide details about their recognition status and other information to state governments to enable them authenticate degrees of students going abroad.

The necessity for the direction arose on a background that Rajasthan government, in absence of information regarding the Deemed University, as obviously such Universities does not come under its jurisdiction, refused to authenticate the degrees of students granted by deemed universities operating in the state, complaining that they were not cooperating and sharing information required for process. Government of Rajasthan accordingly expressed its inability to MHRD vide a letter and requested MHRD to ask UGC to take up the responsibility of authentication and issue necessary instructions to UGC.

Procedurally, a student, going abroad either for the purpose of employment or higher education, has to get his educational certificates authenticated. The state governments authenticate their certificates after verifying the details about the universities. However, in Rajasthan it was becoming a difficulty and therefore the Government finally decided to stop authenticating degrees issued by them.

MHRD, taking strong cognizance of the issue and the Complaint from the Rajasthan Government has asked the UGC secretary to extend all support to the state government in this regard. The commission has also been asked to issue a directive to all deemed universities to ensure that state governments do not face such difficulty and students do not suffer.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

Karnataka State’s attempt to regulate entrance test, admission process of Deemed Universities, halted by High Court

Government of Karnataka, while amending the Karnataka Professional Education Regulation (Regulation of Admissions and Determination of Fee) Act of 2006, vide Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Determination of Fee) (Amendment) Act, 2015 made an attempt to interfere and regulate the admission and entrance test procedure of the Deemed Universities.

The amended sections Section 2(ff) included the definition of deemed-to-be-universities treating them at par with private and professional colleges in the State and Section 4B, apart from specifying methods of admission, also mandates constitution of an association for conduct of common entrance test besides directing for 25 per cent seats to be filled by CET conducted by the state government and quota for the State Government.

Some of the Deemed Universities based in Karnataka approached Karnataka High Court and challenged the action of the State Government. It was contended by the Universities that Deemed Universities having come into existence by Notification issued by the Central Government under a Central Statute, cannot be restricted by State Government by imposing rules regulating their entrance procedure and admission process. It was also argued that these regulations are against the law settled by the Supreme Court and also ultravires to the Constitution of India. It was also contended that the amendments breaches the academic and operational autonomy of the Institutions.

A vacation bench of Justice Anand Byrareddy and Justice P S Dinesh Kumar on hearing the Deemed Universities by way of an Interim Order permitted the Deemed Universities to publish their own calendar of events and conduct their own entrance tests for post-graduate and under-graduate courses to select candidates for admission to professional courses offered by them.

 

EduLegaL View:

This time for an exception, instead of having my own view, I choose the echo the observations of the Supreme Court in the famous TMA Pai’s Foundation Case:

  1. Private education is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing segments of post-secondary education at the turn of the twenty-first century. A combination of unprecedented demand for access to higher education and the inability or unwillingness of government to provide the necessary support has brought private higher education to the forefront……. 
  1. The right to establish and administer broadly comprises of the following rights:- 

 (a) to admit students: 

 (b) to set up a reasonable fee structure: 

 (c) to constitute a governing body; 

 (d) to appoint staff (teaching and non-teaching); and 

 (e) to take action if there is dereliction of duty on the part of any employees. 

  1. The right to establish an educational institution can be regulated; but such regulatory measures must, in general, be to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure (including qualified staff) and the prevention of mal-administration by those in charge of management. The fixing of a rigid fee structure, dictating the formation and composition of a government body, compulsory nomination of teachers and staff for appointment or nominating students for admissions would be unacceptable restrictions. 
  1. Merit is usually determined, for admission to professional and higher education colleges, by either the marks that the student obtains at the qualifying examination or school leaving certificate stage followed by the interview, or by a common entrance test conducted by the institution, or in the case of professional colleges, by government agencies. 

I therefore rest my case !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

UGC’s Order to close alleged unauthorized Campus to BITS Pilani stayed by High Court

The Delhi High Court has stayed the Order / Notice issued by UGC to BITS, Pilani to close its Goa and Hyderabad Campus, issued allegedly on the ground that these campuses have not been approved by UGC / MHRD and the campus are being in run in violation of UGC Guidelines of 2000, UGC Guidelines of 2004 and UGC Regulations of 2010.

On November 9, 2015, UGC, Higher Education Regulatory Authority in the Country had issued Notices to 10 Deemed Universities directing them to close down their off-campus, which have not been permitted / approved by UGC / MHRD.

The Institutes, which received notices were Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies University, BITS, Pilani, Indian School of Mines-Dhanbad, Banasthali University (Rajasthan), Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Science & Technology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (UP) and Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education-Gwalior.

The Notice has created furor in the academic circles as it involved career of many students pursuing their education and several of those who have graduated. All the concerned Deemed Universities protested the Notice and also met the concerned officials and expressed their grievance.

However, BITS Pilani went on aggressive pitch and filed a Petition challenging the closure order before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court. While seeking setting aside of the Order dated 09.11.2015, BITS, Pilani had also sought stay on the Notice. Shri Harish Salve, Sr. Adv., was leading the arguing team in the High Court.

The matter came up before the Bench of the Hon’ble Chief Justice and Hon’ble Justice Jayant Nath on 22.12.2015. Interestingly, there was no representation from UGC, the principal Respondent in the matter.

The Hon’ble High Court after hearing Mr. Salve, issued Notice to UCG returnable on 09.02.2016 and passed the following order:

“Issue notice to the respondent returnable by 09.02.2016. 

 Pending further orders, no coercive steps shall be taken pursuant to the impugned notice dated 09.11.2015.”

 The order of “no coercive steps shall be taken” basically means that the operation and implementation of UGC’s Order dated 09.11.2015, of closure of Off-Campus shall not come into effect and will be treated as stayed. 

Interestingly, few weeks back, Delhi High Court in another matter relating to a Deemed University had observed that UGC Guidelines of 2000 and UGC Guidelines of 2004 are ultravires the UGC Act, 1956 and had held that prior to 2010, i.e., before passing of the Regulations, a Deemed University did not require prior approval of UGC to start new Department / Programme.

EduLegaL View:

The action or rather ill-action of UGC was completely an ill-prepared action. After having given Deemed University/s “legitimate expectation” by not taking any action when they had full knowledge of existence of Off-Campus/es, UGC was disabled by principle of “promissory estoppel” from taking any action against the Deemed Universities much less abrupt closure of the running Institutions at the Off-Campus/es. But wisdom was not on their side and they took hasty decision.

The fate of the unfortunate order was known from the time it was issued and it has turned out to be as expected.

Ravi Bhardwaj

Founder & Principal Consultant

EduLegaL | mail@edulegal.in