Curtains down on Viplav Sharma Case in SC, Decade of suffering for Deemed Universities ends, what next?

SC2A case, pending for last 1 decade has finally come to an end in Supreme Court on 26.08.2016. The PIL has been disposed off simplicitor noting the acceptance of assessment done by NAAC and criticizing the manner in which grading of the Deemed Universities was done by a Tandon Committee, by ignoring the Statutory Authorities and on basis of power-point presentation and not physical inspection.

During the intervening period, Deemed Universities were being treated as sub-standard institutions unworthy of academic and geographical expansion on basis of findings of Tandon Committee and infact some odd 40 of them were “doomed”, as they were de-recognised by the Central Government on the basis of findings of the Supreme Court.

In the year 2006, one Viplav Sharma filed a Petition [PIL] in Supreme Court raising some issues relating to Deemed Universities. During the course of proceeding, MHRD constituted a committee headed by Prof. Tandon to review the functioning of the Deemed Universities. The Committee on basis of power point presentation in a room, without conducting physical inspection graded Deemed Universities in A, B and C Categories. According to the Tandon Committee while “A”, satisfied the satisfied the criteria of Deemed Universities, “B” Category were granted 3 years to take corrective measures and “C” Category Universities were sought to be de-recognised. The then Central Government accepted the report of Tandon Committee. All the “C” Category Deemed University challenging the findings and approached Supreme Court, which ordered maintaining “STATUS QUO” in the matter.

The findings of Tandon Committee also prompted MHRD / UGC to notify the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010, which was also challenged by several Deemed Universities in different High Court in the country. By Judgement dated 22.05.2014, the Regulations were quashed and were declared to be invalid and unconstitutional.

UGC Deemed University Regulations, 2010 declared illegal by Hon’ble Karnataka High Court

Summary of the Judgement of the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court on UGC Deemed Universities Regulations, 2010

Later, Supreme Court, though without commenting on legality of the Tandon Committee, expressed opinion that it is UGC which is mandated body to review Universities and asked UGC to inspect all the Deemed Universities and submit report.

For some reason, best known to UGC, it also followed the same process and methodology of Tandon Committee to assess the Deemed Universities. On being pointed out, SC reprimanded the UGC and asked them to assess Deemed Universities after conducting physical inspection.

SC disapproves UGC process of inspection by photographs and video-camera

UGC conducted inspection and found 7 of them to be still deficient, to which it granted a year to improve and remaining were cleared subject to approval by MHRD.

In the meantime, Supreme Court taking cognizance of the fact that NAAC, is a statutory autonomous body constituted under UGC Act, 1956 to undertake the functioning of assessment and accreditation, directed NAAC to assess the “C” Category Deemed Universities. NAAC after conducting inspection submitted its report. Surprisingly and contrastingly, many of those who were doomed by Tandon Committee got flying ranks from NAAC.

Decide on universities’ accreditation: SC to NAAC

Failed by Tandon Committee, passed by NAAC

During the proceedings on 19.04.2016, Supreme while accepting the NAAC Assessment, expressed its strong desire to dispose the PIL, with the observation that, “….. in all possibility, we would have closed the matter and a decade old public interest litigation which has, as submitted at the Bar, yielded certain results would have come to an end …..” . However, then Petitioner raised the contention that the Deemed Universities cannot use the expression “University”, in its name, as they are not Universities within the meaning of Section 2[f] and Section 23 of the UGC Act, 1956. The Supreme Court keeping this issue open categorically observed that for all other purpose the Petition will not be heard on any other issue.

After come hearing which happened on 12.07.2016, 27.07.2016 and 29.07.2016, in the hearing dated 12.08.2016, the Petitioner expressed its desire to withdraw the Petition in light of order dated 19.04.2016. Finally in the hearing on 26.08.2016, the Supreme Court observing that, issue of using expression “University” by Deemed University was not an issue in the PIL , disposed the Petition. However, it did allow the Petitioner to take appropriate recourse available under the law regarding the issue of using of expression “University” by Deemed Universities.

So, finally curtain was drawn on the decade old Petition, which questioned the very existence of the Deemed Universities.

EduLegaL View:

EduLegaLIt was necessary that faith in power and mandate of statutory authorities should be restored. Tandon Committee had eroded this faith, which was further compounded by the inaction and reliance of MHRD on its findings. Finally and again Indian Judiciary has ended the continued agony and pain of a decade for Deemed Universities.

Issue, is what next, MHRD should disown Tandon Committee and its findings and should come clear on its policy relating to Deemed Universities. Right to establish and administer educational institution is a fundamental right, and it cannot be restricted by executive fiats, in nature of Tandon Committee. The field can only be governed and regulated by a just and fair law.

This conclusively proves that the “drawing room” method of out-sourced assessment by Tandon Committee was completely flawed. Eventually, the law of the country prevailed and Institutions have been given justice after long tiring struggle of 10 years. In true words, meaning, mandate and manifestation of law and supremacy of a statutory academic regulators has been restored.

Ravi Bhardwaj

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Disclose full information about distance learning programmes: UGC to Institutes

UGC2Noting that Institutions offering education through distance mode are not disclosing full information regarding their Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes to prospective students and the public, the UGC on Wednesday directed such institutions to put up detailed information covering all aspects of ODL programmes on their official websites.

The latest notification also comes in the light of reports earlier this year that some universities are violating UGCs policy by issuing misleading advertisements that their programmes are recognized by the UGC. Some Institutes were involved in conducting technical degree programmes in distance education mode.

Since December 2012, the UGC has taken over the regulatory functions with regard to Distance Education programmes in higher education from the erstwhile Distance Education Council. Since then, it has implemented several measures to maintain standards of distance education programmes.  Currently, a total of 128 universities and institutions offering academic programmes under ODL mode are recognised by the UGC.

Following this direction, along with the titles of the courses offered, the Institutions are now required to display information regarding approval of the statutory bodies of the University, upload complete approval letters of the regulatory bodies, and provide details of academic calendar of such programmes.

Moreover, to help prospective students get a comprehensive view of the course they wish to enrol in, UGC has also mandated disclosing information regarding number of students who enrolled, appeared, and passed the exam under ODL courses during the last three academic sessions. Details of faculty and the minimum qualification of subject coordinators and counsellors at the study centres are to be displayed online as well.

Further, a list of study centres and examination centres with complete addresses and details of course co-ordinators and support services will now be available on their programme websites along with the information regarding availability of online Self Learning Material (SLM).

The UGC also took cognizance of the practice followed by some institutions of asking personal details from students before giving out basic information regarding these courses and has directed them to upload complete information in a transparent manner within 15 days.

Prior to this notification, released on August 24, UGC had come out with a policy of forbidding institutions to conduct examination for their distance learning programmes outside the State of their location or beyond their territorial jurisdiction. Distance education institute, therefore, cannot conduct examination outside their States or beyond their territorial jurisdiction.

EduLegaL View:

Education Law and Policy

Misleading Advertisement by Educational Institutions is biggest corruption in education. The solution is absolute transparency and disclosure. This is a positive step towards eliminating Misleading Advertisement.

In any case, “Right to Information” is a fundamental right and it should certainly extend to providing information to the prospective students so that they can make the correct decision.

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

UGC asks colleges to submit online compliance of anti-ragging measures

UGC2Reiterating its tough stance on the issue of curbing the menace of ragging, the UGC recently released a notification asking colleges to submit an online report of compliance of Anti-ragging Regulations of 2009. It has further warned educational institutes of punitive action if they do not act in accordance with the Regulations or fail to take adequate steps to prevent ragging and punish perpetrators of incidents of ragging suitably.

‘Regulations on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutes, 2009’ were notified by the UGC in pursuance to the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in the University of Kerala v. the Council of Principals of Colleges in Kerala’.  These regulations are mandatory and apply to all Universities. Among other things, they require institutes to step up anti-ragging mechanism by adequately publicising its anti-ragging stance through various mediums, setting up of anti-ragging committee and squad, installing CCTV cameras at vital points, organizing workshops and seminars on eradication of ragging, and displaying anti-ragging posters at prominent places.

They further require colleges to have regular interaction and counselling with students, to mention anti-ragging warning in the institution’s prospectus and information booklet, and to hold surprise inspection of hostels and other premises vulnerable to ragging practices.

Against this background, UGC has requested universities to instruct all colleges under their purview to submit an online compliance of anti-ragging regulations. The notification also states that the National Anti-ragging Helpline has been set up for students in distress.

Citing the second amendment in the UGC regulations, the notification further makes it compulsory for each student and every parent to submit an online undertaking every academic year at www.antiragging.com and www.amanmovement.org. The expanded definition of ragging to include racial, ethnic and casteist remarks as broadened by the third amendment has also found its mention in the notice.

EduLegaL View:

edulegal imageConstant reiteration of anti-ragging policy is a necessary and a positive step against curbing the menace of ragging that has infected higher educational institutions in India for a long time. Eradicating this menace by creating awareness on its ill-effects can only be achieved with a sincere co-operation from institutions. Latest UGC notification requiring online submission of compliance report is a constructive step towards that goal.

Ravi Bhardwaj

Read other related stories:

Now, racial, ethnic and casteist remarks also ragging: UGC amends the Regulations

Racial and ethnic discrimination may be included under Ragging

UGC Notifies Regulations for Credit Framework for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

UGC2UGC recognising the need to widen the access to higher education through technology has released the Credit Framework for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) by establishing a indigenous platform of learning, named as SWAYAM (Study Web of Active Learning by Young and Aspiring Minds) and also prescribed regulatory mechanism to allow seamless connect between the online learning and the regular class room learning.

The Regulations, shall facilitate transfer of credits of such students who are enrolled as regular/part-time students in any educational institution in India through ‘Four quadrant approach’, wherein the

Quadrant-I is e-Tutorial: that shall contain: Video and Audio Content in an organised form, Animation, Simulations, Virtual Labs,

Quadrant-II is e-Content: that shall contain: PDF/e-Books/illustration, video demonstrations, documents and Interactive simulations wherever required. •

Quadrant-III is Web Resources: that shall contain: Related Links, Open Content on Internet, Case Studies, An ecdotalin formation, Historical development of the subject, Articles and

Quadrant-IV is Self-Assessment : that shall contain: MCQ, Problems, Quizzes, Assignments andsolutions, Discussion forum topics and setting up the FAQ, Clarifications on general misconceptions.

The ‘National MOOCs Coordinator’ (NMC) a Nation level agency designated under the Regulations, for coordinating the production of the online courses and for overseeing their quality shall identify the Institutions, which desire to offer online courses in the forthcoming semester on SWAYAM Platform. The Institution keeping in view their academic requirements, decide upon the courses, which it shall permit for credit transfer.

However, there are some limitations on an Institution offering course on SWAYAM Platform. The Institution has to show that there is non-availability of suitable teaching staff for running a particular course in the Institution or the facilities for offering the elective papers (courses), sought for by the students are not on offer in the Institution, but are available on the SWAYAM platform and also that the courses offered on SWAYAM would supplement the teaching-learning process in the Institution. In any case, the Institution has to ensure that the physical facilities like Laboratories, computer facilities, library etc, essential for pursuing the courses shall be made available free and in adequate measure by the parent institution. The parent institution must also designate a course coordinator/facilitator to guide the students throughout the course and to facilitate/conduct the Lab/Practical sessions/examinations.

mooc3Every student, aspiring to have credit transfer through MOOC Courses, would be required to register for the MOOCs for that course/paper. Their performance would be evaluated by a host institution and the PI shall be responsible for evaluating the students registered for the MOOCs course launched by him/her. The evaluation should be based on predefined norms and parameters and shall be based on a comprehensive evaluation throughout the length and breadth of course based on specified instruments like discussions, forums, quizzes, assignments, sessional examinations and final examination.

The Regulation, though paves route for online learning, but surprisingly it leaves discretion with the PI to decide on the mode of conducting the final examination, which may also be pen and paper method.

After conduct of the examination and completion of the evaluation, the PI through the host institution shall award marks/grade as per the evaluation scheme and communicate to the students and parent institution, which shall incorporate the marks/grade obtained by the student, in the marks sheet of the student that counts for final award of the degree with the proviso that the programs in which Lab/Practical Component is involved, the parent institution will evaluate the students for the practical/Lab component and accordingly incorporate these marks/grade in the overall marks/grade.

The parent Institution shall give the equivalent credit weightage to the students for the credits earned through online learning courses through SWAYAM platform in the credit plan of the program for the purpose of credit mobility.

UGC has also asked the Universities to amend their Ordinances, Rules, Regulations etc., to incorporate provisions of these Regulations for the purpose of seamless Integration of MOOCs and also has warned them from refusing any student for credit mobility for the courses earned through MOOCs.

UGC shall notify a Standing committee to resolve any issues that may arise in the implementation of these regulations during the transition period of three years.

EduLegaL View:

No doubt it is a good start! and a great leap for wider access to higher education.

But, I think the slowly the “centralized” system of e-learning has to give way for independent online hosting of courses also.

Today there is no regulation in the country, which empowers an Institution to conduct online learning. The proposed Distance Education Council of India Bill makes provision for the same. It is required that regulation should be in place obviously with prescribed standards to allow Institutions to conduct online course, and not just enabling credit transfer.

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

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

 

 

Now, racial, ethnic and casteist remarks also ragging: UGC amends the Regulations

In light of recent unfortunate incidents and for some time now, UGC was contemplating to make any acts which demeans a person on basis of his race, sex or caste an act of ragging and finally it has amended the Ragging Regulations to comprehensively include all kinds of offences relating to race, caste, creed or sex of a person.

UGC2UGC, by Gazette dated 29.06.2016, has amended Clause 3 of UGC Regulations on Curbing the menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions, 2009, which defines “Ragging” and has added the following clause:

3(j). Any act of physical or mental abuse (including bullying and exclusion) targeted at another student (fresher or otherwise) on the ground of colour, race, religion, caste, ethnicity, gender (including transgender), sexual orientation, appearance, nationality, regional origins, linguistic identity, place of birth, place   of residence or economic background.

Taking cognizance of this heinous crime, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of “University of Kerala v/s. Council, Principals, Colleges and others” had constituted a Committee to address the issues of ragging and also frame regulations to arrest the menace of Ragging. UCG in the year 2009, with the objective to prohibit, prevent and eliminate the scourge of ragging had notified UGC Regulations on Curbing the menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions, 2009.

The Regulations, broadly define “Ragging” as any conduct which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness a fresher or any other student which causes or is likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame, or torment or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the physique or psyche of such fresher or any other student, with or without an intent to derive a sadistic pleasure or showing off power, authority or superiority by a student over any fresher or any other student. This includes disrupting studies, financial extortion, sexual abuse etc.

A student who is found guilty of ‘Ragging’ may be suspended from attending classes and academic privileges. The Regulations also provides that the Institute can also withhold scholarship/ fellowship and other benefits or debarring them from appearing in any test/ examination or other evaluation process and withholding results. In extreme cases, it may also result in cancellation of admission or rustication from Institution.

The Regulations recognizes that the Institution has vital role to play in curbing the menace of Ragging and hence it has warned the Institution that it fails to take action in case of Ragging then the Commission may withdraw any allocated grants and declare that the erring Institution is ineligible for consideration for any assistance and it does not possess the minimum academic standards. In extreme cases, it may also lead to withdrawal of affiliation / recognition.

UGC has also launched a dedicated website for this purpose: www.antiragging.in. According to the statistics available on the website, since the year 2009, a total of 3343 complaints have been lodged till date.

Out of this total complaint, 192 Complaints have been lodged from State of Maharashtra. Further studying it Gender Wise, it is seen that out of 192 Complaints made in Maharashtra, 159 Complaint has been made by Male Students and 33 Complaints have been made by Female Students.

The Highest Complaints have been lodged from State of Uttar Pradesh [692] followed by West Bengal [432] and Madhya Pradesh [372].

The Initiative by UGC has resulted in closure of 1991 Complaints, while 17 are active In Call Centre, 19 Complaints are being actively considered by Monitoring Agency, 45 Complaints are pending with UGC and 22 Complaints are pending with other Regulatory Authorities.

EduLegaL View:

Ragging is worst possible heinous crime, which affects the youth and has to be tackled at all levels. Government has made laws and regulations to address the situation and problem has been arrested to a substantial extent.

The amendment in the Regulations to protect a person from any conduct of physical or mental abuse relating to caste, race, sex of a person is also found in Article 15 and 16 of Constitution of India and the amendment further propogates the mandate of the Constitution.

Good One !

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

UGC notifies Regulations on Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment

UGC2UGC has notified Regulations relating to Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of women employees and students in Higher Educational Institutions, which shall apply to Higher Educational Institutes in India. It has also made its intentions clear that an Institute not following the Regulations will face strict action that could include withdrawal of grants or even de-recognition.

The Regulations defines sexual harassment to include all nature of verbal, physical or non-verbal conduct with sexual undertones intending to create a hostile and intimidating environment for the student on campus. It also enlarged the meaning of student to include a prospective student and student studying in other Institution as a student of an Institute, where any incident of sexual harassment takes place against such student. It also tried to protect the student from third party or outsiders indulging in such act at the campus.

The word “campus” has been given very wide meaning to include the Institution and its related institutional facilities and also includes extended campus and covers transportation facilities, field trips, internships, study tours, excursions, places used for camps , festivals and sports meets. It also further prescribes the procedure to file a complaint and the punishments to be awarded in case of conviction.

The Institutions have been directed to constitute Internal Complaints Committee with an inbuilt mechanism for gender sensitization against sexual harassment. It mandates that at least one-half of the total members of the ICC shall be women and Persons in senior administrative positions, such as Vice- Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellors, Rectors, Registrar, Deans, Heads of Departments, etc., shall not be members of ICCs in order to ensure autonomy of their functioning. The Inquiry has to be completed within 90 days and the Institution has to take effective action within 30 days after the receipt of recommendation.

According to the Regulations, in exceptional cases, even, relatives, friends, colleagues of the victim can also lodge a complaint on his/her behalf if the person is unable to do so on account of physical or mental incapacity or death.

It has prescribed a full charter for the Institutes expecting them to undertake several activities to raise awareness regarding the issue. It expects the Institute to notify the provisions against sexual harassment and organise training programmes to sensitize and ensure knowledge and awareness of the rights, entitlements and responsibilities under these regulations. The Institute is also expected to act decisively against all gender based violence against students. Most importantly the Institute will now have to include in its prospectus and display prominently at conspicuous places or Notice Boards the penalty and consequences of sexual harassment mechanism put in place for redressal of complaints.

As an Interim measure, an Institution can transfer the complainant or the respondent to minimise the risks involved in contact or interaction and restrain the respondent from reporting on or evaluating the work or performance or tests or examinations of the complainant. In appropriate cases, the respondents can be denied entry into the campus as well.

Upon conviction the Institute may withhold privileges of the student such as access to the library, auditoria, halls of residence, transportation, scholarships, allowances, and identity card; suspension or restriction from entry into the campus for a specific period; expel and strike off name from the rolls of the institution, including denial of readmission, if the offence so warrants. The Institute may also award reformative punishments like mandatory counselling and community service. The aggrieved person is entitled to the payment of compensation.

If however a complaint is found to be false or malicious complaints then the Complainant is liable to be penalized to ensure that the provisions for the protection of employees and students from sexual harassment do not get misused.

The Institute contravening or failing to comply with the obligations and duties laid out in the Regulations may face withdrawal of declaration of fitness to receive grants, removal of name of the university or college from the list maintained by the Commission; withholding any grant allocated to the institution. The Commission may also inform the general public that the institution does not provide for a zero tolerance policy against sexual harassment and may recommend for withdrawal of affiliation, withdrawal of declaration as an institution deemed to be university or University.

EduLegaL View

Good ! A welcome step ! Should have been done earlier in 2013 itself when the principal act was passed.

Distinctively, the Regulation is gender neutral and it recognises that a male student or for that matter a student of third gender can also be a victim of sexual harassment. There has been growing demand to law relating to domestic violence, dowry make gender-neutral. Infact it is a good practice to make gender-neutral law, which propagates more equality, instead of treating a particular class as victim and a particular class as offender.

Read the UGC Regulations 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

AICTE lays down Study Leave Guidelines for Teachers

AICTE has laid down comprehensive guidelines for availing Study Leave for the Teachers and other Academic Staff in Institutions approved by AICTE, who have joined the teaching services without without M. Tech./ Ph. D or other higher qualification.

The Guidelines prescribe that Study leave may be granted to pursue for study (M.E./M. Tech./ Ph. D) or research in the relevant discipline after a minimum of three years in regular service including the probation period. Study Leave keeping in mind the availability of teachers in the discipline and the vacant positions so that the regular academic work is not disturbed while granting study leave. Study leave shall be granted by the Institution on the recommendation of the concerned Head of the Department.

The paid period of study leave should be two/three years for Master/ Doctorial level respectively. Two years may be given in the first instance, extendable by one more year for Ph. D program. Any extension beyond the stipulated period shall be treated as leave without Pay.

However, such benefit can be availed only once during the entire service and will not be available to a teacher who is due to retire within five years of the date on which he/she is expected to return to duty. Study leave granted to a teacher shall be deemed to be cancelled in case it is not availed of within 12 months of its sanction. Provided that where study leave granted has been so cancelled, the teacher may apply again for such leave.

A teacher availing Study Leave shall continue to receive scholarship, fellowship or other financial assistance, in addition to the Salary being received by him at his home Institution. However, in the case of an Indian fellowship, which exceeds the salary of the teacher, the salary would be forfeited.

Study leave may be combined with earned leave, half-Pay leave, extraordinary leave or vacation, provided that the earned leave at the credit of the teacher shall be availed at the discretion of the teacher.

Another salient feature of the Scheme is that a teacher, who is selected to a higher post during study leave, will be placed in that position and get the higher scale only after joining the post and shall on his/her return and re-joining the service of the Institute be eligible to the benefit(s) of the annual increment(s) which he/she would have earned in the course of time if he/she had not proceeded on study leave. No teacher shall however, be eligible to receive arrears of increments.

Study leave shall count as service for pension/contributory provident fund purposes, provided the teacher joins back in the Institute on the expiry of his/her study leave.

After the leave has been sanctioned, the teacher shall execute a bond that he/she shall serve the Institute for a continuous period of at least three years to be calculated from the date of his/her resuming duty on expiry of the study leave. If the Faculty, fails to observe the conditions, amount paid to him might become refundable to the Institute

The teacher shall submit to the Head of the Institution, the progress report at a frequent interval of 6 months in his/her studies through his/her supervisor. This report shall reach the Head of the Institution of within one month of the expiry of every six months term of the study leave. If the report does not reach within the specified time, the payment of leave salary may be deferred till the receipt of such report.

EduLegaL View

The purpose of study leave is to enable a Faculty to pursue a course or to undertake research, which would improve his potential to serve the Institution and the Students. In that light, this is really a welcome move and will help streamline that process.

But there are few practical issues, How many of the Institutions, do actually follow this and How many of the teachers, do actually return to the Institutions, which granted the Study Leave. The answer is “very few”, which demoralizes such liberal policies.

Let us see, how this New Policy, takes effect !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in