Information Panel puts ceiling to cost for seeking copies of answer sheet only at a cost of Rs 2 per page, censors practice of charging exhorbitant fees

RTI

In a major relief to the students, the Central Information Commission has directed all the Universities in India, including deemed Universities and all examining bodies to provide copies of answer sheet only at a cost of Rs 2 per page. It has also directed UGC and Association of Indian Universities, to circulate, publicize and insist on implementation of the rule in all academic/examining bodies. It has also directed MHRD to circulate this order to all examining bodies including Universities and make it mandatory for them to bring uniformity in the rules and regulations by fixing cost at not more than Rs 2 per page of answer sheet.

CIC was examining the rule of Delhi University, which prescribed Rs. 750/- per application for seeking copy of the Answer Sheet. CIC has not only prescribed this ceiling, at the same time it has held that rules prescribing a student to pay exorbitant fees for seeking copy of answer sheets are in violation of Right to Information Law and must be changed to allow a student to exercise his Right to Information.

CIC gave this ruling while hearing a Complaint / Appeal regarding constraints including huge fees being charged for providing certified copy of evaluated answer sheet. The aggrieved student was questioning the regulation of Delhi University alleging that it enables University to impose unreasonable time­ frames and cost constraints on their right to secure copy of answer­sheet. CIC also ruled that such rules are against the law settled by Supreme Court of India.

Section 7 of RTI Act says: “…provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed…” Section 7(2)(a) says that the PIO has to ‘give details of further fees representing cost of providing the information as determined by him together with the calculations made to arrive at the amount in accordance with fee prescribed under sub-section(1) requesting him to deposit that fees….”. As per Section 7(2)(b), the PIO has to inform the applicant “concerning his right with respect to review the decision as to the amount of fee charged or the form of access provided…”. Rule 4 of the Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules 2005, framed by the Central Government mandates the following rates, (a) rupees two for each page or actual cost in case of larger size paper.

CIC relied on Judgements of the Supreme Court in case of CBSE v Aditya Bandopadhyay and ICAI v. Shaunak Satya, which has held that evaluated answer-book is an ‘information’ under the RTI Act and cannot be under any exemption prescribed under RTI Act.

CIC also relied on the Judgement of Rajasthan High Court in relation to the exorbitant fee charged by a University to extent of Rs 1000 for copy of answer sheets, which had held that charging of exorbitant fees of Rs.1,000/- for the purpose of providing copy of answer-book to a student by the respondent-University is in violation of object and purpose of the Act of 2005 and is an ill-intended attempt on the part of the University to discourage the students from seeking certified copies of their answer-books.

CIC felt that imposing time and cost constraints over and above the norms prescribed by RTI Act and Rules and charging Rs 750 per paper, which far more than Rs 2 for copy per page (as prescribed) will impose economic burden on a student, who has paid an examination fee to meet the expenditure to conduct examination including the cost of evaluation. This is a huge amount over and above the fee collected, for recounting and re­evaluation. CIC also felt that charging so high a fee/cost will not only deny the accessibility, but also immunize the public authority from being accountable to students. The resultant situation is: If a student cannot pay Rs 750, the Delhi University will become not accountable for its evaluation! This is against objective and scheme of RTI Act.

answer sheet.jpg

 

It finally held that that “prescribing unreasonable cost and time constraint will in fact amount to complete denial of information to the students on grounds of their economic status, which is in violation of Article 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India. No citizen shall be discriminated on the basis of his access to resources or any criteria including poverty as per his fundamental report to equality. It is very sad that educational institution like university is not mindful of the basic fact and they are going on denying information to the students, by imposing high cost, which means if you cannot afford, you cannot access. Thus, charging of Rs 750 per answer sheet will amount to breach of sections 3, 6 and 7 of the RTI Act.”

 It thus held that high cost of Rs 750 per paper for securing copy of answer­sheet and time conditions that a student has to approach only after 61 days and before 75 days after result declared will unreasonably restrict the right to access to his own answer book and breakup of marks awarded.

EduLegaL View

There are two concepts of law “substantive” and “procedural”. While RTI Act, 2005 guarantees “Right to Information” to an Indian Citizen, which is substantive law. Rules made by Public Authorities prescribing the condition for implementation of this “substantive law” is part of “procedural law”.

Public Authorities by way of delegated legislation cannot frame a “procedural law” by which exercise of “substantive law” becomes difficult or impossible. The “procedural law” has to aid the “substantive law”.

Making RTI Rules, to make it difficult for a student to exercise his Right to Information is infringement of liberty of students to get a photocopy of answer script and their right to access the information. The rules cannot prescribe unreasonable time and cost constraints, as “Right to access the Information” is inherent in “Right to Information”.

Read the Full Judgement.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

Statutory Councils not in support of pursuing two degrees simultaneously

UGC2

University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a Notice dated 15th January 2016 stating that its consultations related to allowing students to pursue two degrees simultaneously has not received a positive response and hence the possibility of allowing a student to pursue two degrees has hit a road block.

Earlier, in year 2012, a Committee headed by Mr. Fuqran Kamar, Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Hyderabad, Mr. Manoj Kumar Mishra, Vice Chancellor, University of Lucknow and Prof. Sudhanshu Bhushan, NUEPA, New Delhi had recommended that students enrolled in a regular degree course should be allowed to pursue an additional degree simultaneously under open or distance education mode from the same or different university. However, students should not be allowed to undertake two regular degrees at the same time, the committee had held.

The Committee had also recommended that students enrolled in a regular degree course should be allowed to pursue an additional one Certificate/Diploma/ Post Graduate Diploma in regular or distance mode, from the same or different university.

The Committee was not in favour of allowing two degree programmes under regular mode simultaneously as it may create logistic, administrative and academic problems.

The University Grants Commission finally at a meeting on July 31, 2013 decided to accept its Committee’s recommendations on permitting pursuit of an additional degree programme, in the manner as aforesaid.

However, recently, UGC has notified that it had sought the comments of statutory councils on the issue of allowing pursuing two degrees simultaneously, but the responses of the Statutory Council was not encouraging. UGC has therefore directed the Institutions that they shall conduct their programmes in accordance with the First Degree and Master Degree Regulations, 2003 prescribed by the UGC and also follow the norms and parameters prescribed by the Statutory Council concerned, wherever relevant.

EduLegaL View:

The recent notice, without any clarity on the earlier Resolution has added to confusion for academic governance.

Pursuing two courses simultaneously allows a student to do value addition to him and enhance his knowledge and skill. It also adds to the prospect to his employability.

Not allowing pursuing two degree programmes in name of “logistic, administrative and academic problems” is a weak response to the growing demands of the students and such issues can easily be addressed.

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.

MHRD constitutes committee to deliberate on setting up Yoga Department and start courses in Yoga in Universities

MHRD after deciding to set up Department of Yogic Art and Science in the Universities during a consultative meeting with Vice Chancellors in Bangalore on 2nd January 2016, has now constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of Prof. H.R. Nagendra. Chancellor, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana, Samsthana, Bengaluru to look into the various aspects pertaining to setting up of Departments of Yogic Art and Science.

The Committee will deliberate on other pertinent issues including starting courses and programmes like Certificate, Diploma, Degree, Post Graduate Degree/ Diploma and Research in Yoga and the levels at which they can be offered. This will also mean that the Committee will have to determine eligibility qualifications for students joining Yoga and faculty teaching Yoga.

Infact things come out as expected then Yoga will part of NET Examination which is conducted by UGC every year. The Committee has also been asked to see whether existing departments of yoga in Universities can be upgraded to be developed as Departments Yogic Art and Science.

The Committee also consists of Prof. Suresh Lai Barnwal, Prof. Ishwar Bhardwaj, Prof. Neel Kamal, Swami Atmapriyananda, Pandit Radhey Shyam, Prof. O.P.Tiwari Kaivalayadhama, Prof. Subramanayam, Prof. P.Venkat Rangan and Sri Rupen Bhowmik.

The Committee has been asked to submit its Report within 45 days.

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

Advertising Council finds ads of major Coaching Institutes for CAT, IIT and Law to be misleading

In a major crackdown on Advertisements released by the Coaching Institutes engaged in field of Coaching Students for CAT, MBA, Law Entrance, IIT, GREE, GMAT, the Advertisement Standard Council of India, has in its decision of October 2015 has found several of their ads to be misleading, unsubstantiated and ambiguous.

These Institutes as per the decision of the Advertising Council have made claims of Ranking in the Entrance Examinations, Number of successful students, Coaching and Learning Material Preparations and Contents, Test Series, Coaching Pedagogy to influence the aspirants to join their Institutes.

In October 2015, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against major Coaching Institutions which operate in MBA / Engineering / Law Domain relating to misleading advertisements and unsubstantiated claims in their Advertisements. The CCC found that claims in the following advertisements were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions.


  1. Byju Classes: The claims in the advertisement, “Best CAT Coaching Institute in India”, “GMAT Topper”, “Unique CAT Pattern Workshop”, “Can’t Compare with Byju & Santosh”, “Study Material of Most of the Institutes have no value differentiation”, “80% of the students have crossed 90 percentile over the last 5 years”, “Unique Approach to RC”, “Best Team of IAS Trainers”, “India’s No. Aptitude Trainer”, “India’s #1 IAS faculty”, “20,000 test-takers across the country”, “No National Level Tests” and “Best Teachers”, were not substantiated. Other related Ads of BYJU Classes, which were found not to be in accordance with the advertising norms were as follows:

  •  GRE Coaching: The claims in the advertisement, “Why is success guaranteed in GRE with Mumbai’s top GRE coaching classes – BYJU’S classes?”, “60 sec is what you need to crack any verbal question using our Mathematical Approach”, “Best Teacher & comprehensive course content” and “70% of our students cross 320 in GRE with our courses”, were not substantiated.
  • CAT Coaching: The claims in the advertisement, “Bell the CAT with India’s No.1 CAT Trainers”, “2000 students attend BYJU’s Classes together in a single batch in single center – making it India’s Biggest Classroom” and “Byju Raveendran serial CAT topper & No. 1 trainer for the CAT”, were not substantiated.
  • GMAT Coaching Classes: The claims in the advertisement, “70% of our students have a score of 700+ in GMAT”, “60 sec is what you need to crack any GMAT verbal question using our Patented Mathematical Approach”, “760 is the minimum GMAT score of our trainers” and “We are exclusive education partner with Samsung, The Times of India, The Hindu”, were not substantiated with evidence.
  1. CL Educate Ltd. (Career Launcher): The claims in the advertisement, “CAT Test Series – The No.1 Cat Test Series Program”, “Most recommended test series”, “Rated the best by students”, “True percentile predictor”, were not substantiated adequately.

false advertisement

  1. Rao Edusolutions Pvt Ltd. (Rao IIT Academy): The claims in the advertisement, “India’s most dominating results in JEE Advanced 2015”, “8 out every 10 RIITians qualify in MH-CET” and “Number of students selected from Mumbai” (graph showing year of JEE Advanced), were not substantiated with supporting data. In another case relating to Rao Edusolutions Pvt Ltd. (Rao IIT Academy), the claim in the advertisement, “Every nine out of ten Rao IIT students qualified for JEE Mains”, was not substantiated with evidence/ supporting data.
  1. Exam Victor (Online MBA Entrance Coaching): The claims in the advertisement, “India’s Finest Online MBA Entrance Coaching. Period”, “The Best Faculty-Each lecture, every problem and each video is painstakingly hand-crafted by Vivek, an alumnus of IIT Bombay and IIM Ahmedabad. So you can rest assured that your study material is of the highest quality”, “Individual Attention-Making you an Exam Victor is our only priority. We leverage the best technology and cutting- edge analytics to closely follow your progress and provide you timely feedback”, “How is learning online with ExamVictor better?” and “Most classes employ regular graduates of variable quality”, were not substantiated.
  1. IMS Learning Resources Pvt. Ltd. (MBA CET): The advertiser argues that the term “Trusted for Success” is their logo and 15000+ students enrolling with their institute signifies their trust in the institute. The CCC did not consider enrolment of students to be necessarily an indicator of their trust in the institute. Hence, the CCC concluded that the claim in the complaint, “Trusted by 15000+ students for MBA CET since 2009”, when read in conjunction with the term “Trusted for Success” is misleading by ambiguity. 10. CATKing (CAT Toppers): The claims in the advertisement, “CAT King No.1 CAT Classes in Borivali, Andheri & Powai”, “Best you can get” and “Prof Rahul Singh further went to Harvard Business School for his masters in management”, were not substantiated.
  1. IMS Learning Resources Pvt. Ltd. (CAT Training): The claims in the advertisement accompanied by a visual and cited in the complaint “Closest to CAT” was not adequately substantiated by comparative data versus other similar institutes. Also, the claim support data for “Designed by 5-time 100 percentiler” was not considered acceptable and authentic.
  1. CETKing Education: The claims in the advertisement, “Home of Toppers” with photographs of 3 students who have been toppers in entrance test, “Results:700+ IIM Calls, 200+ JBIMS Calls, 358 IIM Converts, 236 SYMBIOSIS, 63 NMIMS,18 TISS, 19 MICA .. many more”, were not substantiated with evidence. Other advertisements not found to be in order was the claim in the advertisement, “CET King No.1 in Dadar” “CET King Dadar Best Coaching available” “Increase your mark by 40 marks” “Guaranteed Admissions in top B- Schools”, were not substantiated with evidence.
  1. CATKing (CLAP Digital Marketing Course): The claims in the advertisement, “Certification from a Harvard Business School Alumni”, and claims with reference to Mr Rahul Singh – “He is a CAT 99.99% in Verbal Ability”, “He scored 780/800 in GMAT”, “He scored 340/340 in GRE and became the World’s Rank 1 GRE Topper”, “He ranks 14th in the world for teaching English”, “He pursued his MBA from SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai” and “He also achieved a degree in Master of Information Technology from Virginia Tech”, were not substantiated with authentic evidence.
  1. Cheil India P. Ltd (Samsung Smart Learning): The claims, “Best test preparation institutes onboard ”, “Best in class content partners”, “Aakash is the premier institute for preparation of medical, engineering & foundation level entrance exams in India”, “Byju has revolutionized Indian education”, were not substantiated with authentic supporting data to prove the credentials of their partners.
  1. CL Educate Ltd. (CL LST): The claim in the advertisement, “8 consecutive CLAT toppers till date”, was not substantiated.
  1. Clat Possible: The CCC concluded that in the context of the coaching for Law Entrance exam being offered in the Institute, the claim in the Website, “Surabhi Modi Sahai has won Fulbright Scholarship”, is misleading by ambiguity as claim support was for Ms Modi to be a Hindi Teaching Assistant under Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program.
  1. Triumphant Institute of Management Education P. Ltd: The claim in the advertisement, “Karnak Verma makes history by ranking All India 3rd in IAS CSAT exam”, is false and misleading as no such rankings are given by Union Public Service Commission who conduct the CSAT exam.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was established in 1985. One of the important functions of ASCI to ensure the protection of the interests of consumers in various categories. ASCI has therefore laid down guidelines with a view to achieve the acceptance of fair advertising practices in the best interests of the ultimate consumer.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI deals with complaints received from Consumers and Industry, against Advertisements which are considered as False, Misleading, Indecent, Illegal, leading to Unsafe practices, or Unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising.

ASCI is also the “Executive Arm” of the Department of Consumer Affairs handling all complaints pertaining to misleading advertisements.

EduLegaL View: 

An old marketing strategy saying goes “ Jo Dikhta wahi bikta hai”, it would not be out of place to improvise it to say “Jo Dikhaya Jata hai, wahi bikta hai”.

Coaching Classes and Institutions have overgrown in India due to huge peer pressure and parental aspirations. It is one of the biggest sector, but still unregulated in majority part of the Country. It is high time that this sector is regulated.

Advertisements surprisingly have become one of most important medium to attract students recently amongst educational institutions. Advertisements play a big role in deciding an Institution and it is required that it should be a responsible step devoid of inducements and falsehoods.

But my issue is, what next, what is the action that will be taken against these coaching institutions, who have indulged in misleading publications and advertisements and what about the students who found themselves on the wrong side relying upon the advertisements.

There is no effective legislation in place, which deals with these situations. MHRD look into the matter and bring effective legislation to ban such ads and take effective actions against the Institutions.

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

Advertising Council finds major Coaching classes Ads to be misleading

Advertising Standards Council of India [ASCI] has been receiving several complaints from parents and students against misleading claims being made in advertisement of various educational institutions pertaining to claims of success in competitive examinations, guaranteed placement and passing, recognition and affiliation institution, ranking of the institutions, nomenclature of degrees etc.

In September 2015, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against major Coaching Institutions which operate in MBA / Engineering Domain relating to misleading advertisements and unsubstantiated claims in nature of Ranking / Award / Recognitions/ Placement Claim / Success Claim / Skill Acquisition / Achievements in Competitive Examinations.

The CCC found that claims in the advertisements were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions.

  1. CL Educate Limited (CAT Coaching): The claim in the advertisement, “5911 IIM Calls by 973 CL students from Delhi/NCR in CAT 2014”, was not substantiated.
  1. Shri Maharana Pratap Private ITI: The claims in the advertisement, “100% Government Job provided if they do courses from Shri Maharana Paratap ITI” and “Number of jobs in govt. sector 15000 and private sector 5,00,000”, were not substantiated. Also, the advertisement was designed to look like editorial matter, which was found to be misleading.
  1. Sea Academy- The claim in the Advertisement, “100% Pass Guarantee Coaching”, was not substantiated.

false advertisement

  1. Aakash Educational Services Pvt. Ltd. (Aakash Institute): The advertiser claiming that Twins, Rahul Bansal and Sahil Bansal (AIIMS-2015 ranks 23 and 40) were from their coaching institutes was not substantiated with authentic evidence.
  1. Institute of Advance Network Technology: The claims mentioned in the advertisement and cited in the complaint, “only institute in India which offers to students five international, nine participation and one IANT totaling 15 certificates”, “A student may get only one IANT Certificate or depending on the courses he chooses, participating companies be offering their certificates”, “100% job guarantee”, “its IT Job Portal is the only one available in India”, “Once they complete the course, they can earn annually from Rs.78000/- to Rs. 4,60,000/- as salary”, “No.1 Hardware Networking and Software training institute”, “No.1 Infrastructure” and “No.1 Quality Education”, were not substantiated.
  1. CL Educate Ltd. (All India Mock IBPS PO Preliminary examination): The claims in the advertisement, “Compete with aspirants from 200 cities” and “Over 1.2 million students trust CL with their exam preparation every year”, were not substantiated.
  1. AIM Study Center: The claim in the Advertisement, “100% Job Guarantee or else money back”, was not substantiated.

EduLegaL View:

An old marketing strategy saying goes “ Jo Dikhta wahi bikta hai”, it would not be out of place to improvise it to say “Jo Dikhaya Jata hai, wahi bikta hai”.

Coaching Classes and Institutions have overgrown in India due to huge peer pressure and parental aspirations. It is one of the biggest sector, but still unregulated in majority part of the Country. It is high time that this sector is regulated.

Advertisements surprisingly have become one of most important medium to attract students recently amongst educational institutions. Advertisements play a big role in deciding an Institution and it is required that it should be a responsible step devoid of inducements and falsehoods.

But my issue is, what next, what is the action that will be taken against these educational institutions, who have indulged in misleading publications and advertisements and what about the students who found themselves on the wrong side relying upon the advertisements.

There is no effective legislation in place, which deals with these situations. MHRD look into the matter and bring effective legislation to ban such ads and take effective actions against the Institutions.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in