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.
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.
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