Private Institutions cannot become “commercial shops” and charge exorbitant fees in name of building fund, infrastructure fund: HC

……… The private institutions cannot be permitted to operate like money minting institutions.

……. Over a period of time, education has become a commodity in India. All the genres of society are so overly obsessed with education that it has devalued the real essence of education. Education is no more a noble cause but it has become a business, therefore, the paradigm shift, especially in the higher education from service to business is a matter of concern. The commercialization of education has a dreadful effect that is so subtle that it often goes unnoticed.

 …… Educational Institutions are indulging in gross misleading advertisements. which can only be termed to be persuasive, manipulative and exploitative to attract the widest possible audience.

 …….. It is shocking that the private institutions have been raising their assets after illegally collecting funds like building fund, development fund, infrastructure fund etc. It is high time these practices are stopped forthwith and there is a crack down on all these institutions.

…… Himachal Pradesh High Court

The Himachal Pradesh taking serious cognizance of ill practices of certain educational institution to conduct in unauthorized manner, collecting exorbitant fees and issuing misleading advertisement has directed State Government to set up a Committee to investigate all the Institutions and further directed State Government to ensure that no fees is charged in name of building fund, development fund, infrastructure fund etc.

The Judgement was passed on a petition directed against the order passed in against the Petitioner Institutions to jointly and severally refund the fees taken from the students.

The petitioner is the so called franchisee of the Sikkim Manipal University based at Sikkim and claims to be running its study centre at Shimla. The students had filed petition under Section 11 of the H.P. Private Educational Institutions (Regulatory Commission), Act, 2010 claiming refund of admission fee paid to the petitioner for MBA PGDM course, on the ground that the same was exorbitant and had never been approved either by the State Government or by the UGC. These petitions were contested by the petitioner and vide impugned order, the petitioner was directed to refund the fee.

The order was challenged on the ground that the Education Commission had no jurisdiction to entertain the petition, as the dispute relating to Sikkim Manipal University was beyond its territorial jurisdiction

The Court considered the finding that neither the petitioner Institute had permission by the UGC to run the institute as a distance education programme study centre nor it had  obtained permission from the State Government and thus observed that the petitioner was concerned only with minting money and was least concerned with the prospects and future of the students. It also observed that “Education institution of the petitioner is no less than a commercial shop, where the aspiring needs of the students stand defeated due to the malpractices and frivolous activities of the petitioner. This is a classical example where the petitioner institute has presented an imaginary and illusory picture for making a successful career to the innocent students admitted in their institute, that too, by charging exorbitant fees and thereafter leaving them in the lurch to fend for themselves little knowing that even the courses undertaken by them may probably not even be recognized in the country. This practice is not only to be deprecated, but is also to be handled and dealt with a heavy hand.”

The Court considering various, guidelines and notification relating to territorial restrictions of a State Private University came to the conclusion that the petitioner could not act as a franchisee of the Sikkim Manipal University and dismissed the Petition.

However before it parted with the Judgement, it made certain important observations, regarding practice of educational institutions to issue misleading advertisements, charge exorbitant fees in different names, commercialization of education etc.:

  1. The private institutions cannot be permitted to operate like money minting institutions.

  2. Imparting education can never be equated with profit oriented business as it is neither commerce nor business and if it is so, then the regulatory controls by those at the helm of affairs have not only to be continued, but are also required to be strengthened.

  3. Over a period of time, education has become a commodity in India. All the genres of society are so overly obsessed with education that it has devalued the real essence of education. Education is no more a noble cause but it has become a business, therefore, the paradigm shift, especially in the higher education from service to business is a matter of concern. The commercialization of education has a dreadful effect that is so subtle that it often goes unnoticed.
  1. Mushroom growth of ill-equipped, understaffed and unrecognized educational institutions was noticed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and it was observed that the field of education had become a fertile, perennial and profitable business with the least capital outlay in some States and that societies and individuals were establishing such institutions without complying with the statutory requirements.
  1. Educational Institutions are indulging in gross misleading advertisements. which can only be termed to be persuasive, manipulative and exploitative to attract the widest possible audience. These institutes trap into their web the innocent, vulnerable and unsuspecting students. Their lucrative and mesmerizing advertisements hypnotize the students only to fall into an unknown world of uncertainties. Some institutes promise hundred percent placement, some claim excellent staff, some claim free wi-fi campus, some promise free transportation etc. But what should really matter is ‘education’. This problem is further compounded by the proliferation of coaching institutes which have only made ‘education’ more dirty and murkier.
  1. It is shocking that the private institutions have been raising their assets after illegally collecting funds like building fund, development fund, infrastructure fund etc. It is high time these practices are stopped forthwith and there is a crack down on all these institutions. Every education institution is accountable and no one, therefore, is above the law. It is not to suggest that the private education institutions are not entitled to their due share of autonomy as well as profit, but then it is out of this profit that the private education institutions, including schools are required to create their own assets and other infrastructure. They cannot under the garb of building fund etc. illegally generate funds for their “business expansion” and create “business empires”.

The Court in light of all these observations felt that there is an urgent need for Government intervention by conducting a fresh investigation of all these institutions and directed the Chief Secretary to Government of Himachal Pradesh is directed to constitute a committee which shall carry out inspection of all the private education institutions at all levels i.e. schools, colleges, coaching centres, extension centres, (called by whatever name), universities etc. throughout the State of Himachal Pradesh regarding requisite infrastructure, parents teacher associations, qualified staff and submit report regarding compliance of the H.P. Private Educational Institutions (Regulation) Act, 1997 within three months.

The Court directed the State Government to ensure that no private education institution is allowed to charge fee towards building fund, infrastructure fund, development fund etc.

In addition to this, the Principal Secretary (Education) is directed to issue mandatory orders to all educational institutions, whether private or government owned, to display the following detailed information relating to faculty, infrastructure, fees breakup, details of internship and placement, on the notice board which shall be placed at the entrance of the campus and on their websites.

EduLegaL View:

Commercialization of education is certainly a serious issue. It is opposed to public policy and Indian tradition. Education has never been commerce in this country. The object of establishing an institution has thus been to provide technical or professional education to the deserving candidates, and is not necessarily a commercial venture.

To put it differently, in the establishment of an educational institution, the object should not be to make a profit, inasmuch as education is essentially charitable in nature. There can, however, be a reasonable revenue surplus, which may be generated by the educational institution for the purpose of development of education and expansion of the institution.

Appropriate machinery can be devised by the state or university to ensure that exorbitant fee is not charged and that there is no profiteering, though a reasonable surplus for the furtherance of education is permissible. Reasonable surplus to meet cost of expansion and augmentation of facilities does not, however, amount to profiteering.

But nonetheless, after these borderlines have been drawn in plethora of judgements, the issue remaining a burning issue !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

 

HC directs all Universities to evolve mechanism to decide eligibility at the beginning of academic year

” ……  A provisional admission does not create any vested right in the students. A provisional admission is a concession, which is granted to a student and the same cannot be elevated to a position of a creating a vested legal right. … ” 

“……… We therefore direct the State Government and the respective Universities in the State of Maharashtra to evolve a mechanism by which the students at the beginning of the academic year are informed about the ineligibility of their admission and are prevented from unnecessary pursuing the course when not eligible….”

The Bombay High Court, while being pained to see students-institutions wasting time in litigation in Court, has directed all the Universities in the State to evolve a mechanism by which the students at the beginning of the academic year are informed about the ineligibility of their admission and are prevented from unnecessary pursuing the course when not eligible.

The Petitioner in question could clear her backlog of the first year (IInd Semester- Applied Mathematics) subject, only in November, 2015 and before passing the same was granted admission to the Third year (Vth and VIth semester) which was wholly impermissible. The College and the University, for these reasons refused to allow the petitioner to appear for the viva- voce examination of the VIth semester which is to be held on 18th April,2016 and her form was not accepted.

The Petitioner then approached the Court seeking direction to allow the Petitioner to appear for the Viva Voce examinations and the written examinations for the sixth semester and continuation of studies in the seventh and thereafter in the eight semester in the engineering course in the Information Technology faculty.

The Court declined to entertain the petition relying on a rule that a candidate to be eligible to obtain an admission for the Third Year (V & VI semester) should have passed Semester I and II examination and when the Petitioner approached for admission to third year (V and VI semester) in the Academic Year 2014- 15 and was given provisional admission had not cleared the IInd semester examination namely the subject ‘Applied Mathematics’ in which she had failed and hence the Petitioner was not eligible for admission to Third Year.

The Court also ruled that a provisional admission does not create any vested right in the students. The Court also observed that a provisional admission is a concession, which is granted to a student and the same cannot be elevated to a position of a creating a vested legal right. The Petitioner in the present case was given provisional admission and hence she could have claimed any vested right.

Before concluding the Judgement, the Court made following observations:

“ We would be failing in our duty if we do not sound a note of caution in such cases which would be in the interest of the institutions and the students. We are at pains to see number of such cases coming to the court at the fag end when the examination is about to commence. This is routinely happening. Many times it is seen that the institution is at fault for not scrupulously enforcing norms of the University in respect of matters which the University would want the institution to do. The students also many times being aware of the rules try to exploit the situation and try to create equities, and then approach the court at the fag end. In all these situations the students may ultimately suffer huge loss in terms of their academic career. Such situations which are not conducive to anyone are required to avoided. All mischief’s if any at which ever level are required to arrested and remedied at the threshold. This would result in maintaining of academic standards. It is least expected that the students and the institutions waste their time in litigation in Courts. We therefore direct the State Government and the respective Universities in the State of Maharashtra to evolve a mechanism by which the students at the beginning of the academic year are informed about the ineligibility of their admission and are prevented from unnecessary pursuing the course when not eligible. If the institutions and colleges are guilty of making such admissions/ when are against the rules stern action should be taken against such colleges which would be deterrent to these colleges to deviate from the binding academic rules.”

Thus the Court has directed all the Universities in the State of Maharashtra including Deemed Universities to evolve a mechanism by which the students at the beginning of the academic year are informed about the ineligibility of their admission and are prevented from unnecessary pursuing the course when not eligible. The Court has also warned the Institutions and has cautioned that if the institutions and colleges are guilty of making such admissions/ when are against the rules stern action should be taken against such colleges which would be deterrent to these colleges to deviate from the binding academic rules.

EduLegaL View

 There is no doubt that in spirit, this Judgement is very good and will help in maintaining academic and administrative discipline. However, it is also important to note that considering the diversity of this country and different timings and processes all over the Country, it is almost impossible to determine eligibility at the time of admission.

There are many situations, when essential documents required for eligibility like Migration Certificate, verification of caste certificate, equivalence of a foreign degree from AIU consumes time. Additionally, the Institutions are also working a huge volume. In some case, even results of compartment / improvements are also declared and hence with utmost respect to the Judgement, such blanket process and deadline cannot be laid down.

Yes, I agree that this should certainly happen before the commencement of the second year, so that a student does not waste his time, as has also been observed by the Court.

However, this Judgement certainly gives me a thought and if it has to become a reality, we should have UNIFORM ACADEMIC CODE in the Country, when all the examinations start on same and results are declared on the same date throughout the country.

UNIFORM ACADEMIC CODE ! Another debate in making !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

 

 

 

Advertising Council finds ads of major Coaching Institutes misleading

In a major crackdown on Advertisements released by the Coaching Institutes in print media as well as on their websites, engaged in field of Coaching Students for CAT, MBA, Law Entrance, Banking Examinations, the Advertisement Standard Council of India, has in its decision of January 2016 has found several of their ads to be misleading, unsubstantiated and ambiguous.

These Institutes as per the decision of the Advertising Council have 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 January 2016, 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. CL Educate Ltd. (Career Launcher):

A] The claims in the advertisement, “CL, No.1 CAT coaching institute with 9629 IIM Calls in CAT’14. Best MBA prep for CAT, IIFT, XAT, NMAT, SNAP Exams“, “Best MBA prep for CAT, IIFT, XAT, NMAT, SNAP Exams” were not substantiated. The claims were misleading by exaggeration.

B] The claim in the advertisement, “Undisputed market leader in the field of Mgmt Entrance Training”, was false.

C] CAT’16/17: The claim in the advertisement, “9629 IIM calls in CAT 2014”, was not adequately substantiated and was misleading by ambiguity and omission of mention of number of students.

2. Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd. (Byju’s Cat Coaching Institute):

A] The claims in the advertisement, “Best CAT Coaching Institute in Delhi”, and “CAT Coaching by India’s Best Trainers, Byju and Santosh”, were not substantiated.

B] The claim in the advertisement, “Join the best coaching for CAT and boost your CAT preparation”, was not substantiated.

3. TathaGat (MBA Entrance / CAT coaching): The claim in the advertisement, “TathaGat is Delhi’s most successful MBA Entrance / CAT coaching institute for last 5 years now”, was not substantiated.

4. Bulls Eye: The claims in the advertisement, “Highest selection/conversion ratio in the industry”, “Best free prep website in India”, “Bulls eye test series is the best” and “Best free MBA preparation website in India”, were not substantiated.

5] National Banking Academy: The claim in the advertisement, “No.1 institute for BANK & SSC”, was not substantiated.

6] Sriram Law Academy: The claim in the advertisement, “Sriram student secure All India 1st Rank for 12th year in a row!”, was not substantiated adequately and is misleading by ambiguity, as the advertiser does not mention the name of the test/exam in the advertisement, and has not submitted supporting data to prove that the photographs of students shown were actually 1st rankers and were from Sriram Law Academy.

7] Rice Education: The claim in the advertisement, “The Best Training for Govt. Jobs Examination”, is an absolute claim and was not substantiated with supporting comparative data versus other institutes.

8] Adamas Career: The claim in the advertisement, “The Best Choice for Medical and Engineering Entrance Examination”, was not substantiated.

9] Shanti Business School: The claims in the advertisement, “100% Placements (misprinted as 1 0%)” and “Average Package – INR 4.65 LPA” were not substantiated and when read in conjunction, were grossly misleading by implication of availability of higher salary packages.

10] Mewar Classes (Crash Course): The claim in the advertisement, “No. 1 coaching in Bhilwara”, was not substantiated.

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

UGC to consider Ph.D period as teaching experience

UGC realizing the scarcity of qualified faculty and with objective to encourage research students has now notified on 01.03.2016 Ph.D research period should be considered as experience for recruitment and promotion in the higher educational institutions. UGC has taken this decision in it’s 512th meeting held recently.

The UGC circular published on its website as Clarification on counting of the period of active service spent on pursuing Ph.D.”, which reads that the period of active service spent on pursuing Research Degree i.e. for acquiring Ph.D degree simultaneously, without taking any kind of leave, may be counted as teaching experience for the purpose of direct recruitment/ promotion to the post of Associate Professor and above.

EduLegaL View

It is clear from usage of expression “simultaneously” that this is applicable only to whom those who are already in service and pursuing Ph.D. simultaneously as a part time course and in that sense, it fails to meet the vision that it desired to.

However, the condition of “without taking any leave” is really harsh as it is unimaginable that a person will not take leave during 2-3 year of coursework. This harsh condition leaves this resolution only as an eyewash.

In any case, an employed faculty pursuing Ph.D., simultaneously will have his employment counted even otherwise as “experience”, then what is the benefit of this Notification?

Sometimes, the clarification creates more doubts than clarity !

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

 

Statutory Councils not in support of pursuing two degrees simultaneously

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

 

 

RTI Act is not applicable to Deemed Universities: Karnataka High Court

RTI Act is not applicable to Deemed Universities: Karnataka High Court

The High Court of Karnataka setting aside the Judgement of Central Information Commission has held that Manipal University (MU), which is as Institution Deemed to be University does not come under the purview of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

Pursuant to an Application by an advocate, regarding the number of students admitted to Pharma Courses, the University had responded saying that it was not covered within the scope of RTI Act, 2005 and hence is not bound to disclose the information. The Applicant being aggrieved, took the matter to Central Information Commission and the Commission was pleased to pass following order:

“It appears from Section 3 that deemed Universities are declared to be so by notification in the official Gazette by the Central Government. Of this is the case, then a deemed University may come with in the definition of “Public Authority”. As mentioned earlier, “Public Authority” does include any authority or body established or constituted by notification issued by the appropriate Government.”……………… “”University” means a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act, and includes any such institution as may, in consultation with the University concerned, be recognized by the Commission in accordance with the regulations made in this behalf under this Act. Manipal University by virtue of being a Deemed University is a Public authority as defined under the RTI act.”

 Being aggrieved, Manipal University had challenged the Order before the Karnataka High Court seeking declaration that Right to Information Act, 2005 is not applicable to the petitioner-university.

It was argued that University is a private educational institution, which is neither owned, controlled nor substantially financed by the Government. The nature of the control of the Government over the petitioner – University is only regulatory and not otherwise.

It was also contended that a Deemed to be University comes into existence by an Executive Charter and not by way of legislation as is usually done in case of Universities. It was argued that Central Information Commission did not consider the fine line of distinction between the University recognized under the UGC Act and the University established by the Central or a State Act.

The High Court while ruling in favour of the University accepted the argument that the Petitioner University and held that:

“ Given the above facts and circumstances and the legal arguments canvassed by the learned Senior Advocate, it would have to be accepted that the petitioner is a ‘Deemed to be University’ and recognized as such under the UGC Act and it is not established under the Act unlike a University, which is generally established under a statute either under a Central Government Act or State Government Act and therefore it could not be confused with any other University which may be so established. It is neither controlled or financed by the State Government and it is certainly a private institution with its own management and control and therefore, the same cannot be brought under the purview of the definition of a ‘public authority’ as contained under the RTI Act. Hence, it would not be tenable for the respondents to proceed as if the petitioner came under the definition of ‘public authority’ in having issued directions in the impugned order.”

Accordingly, it allowed the Writ Petition and quashed the impugned order.

EduLegaL View:

Though, I agree in principle with the Judgement, but I wish the High Court would also dealt with another important aspect in the definition of “Public Authority”, which deals with Notifications.

Section 2[h] of the Act, which defines “Public Authority” reads as under: “Public Authority” means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted: a. By or under the Constitution, b. By any other law made by Parliament; c. By any other law made by State Legislature; d. By notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any: (i) Body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) Non-Government Organisation substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.”

Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, which provides for the constitution of Deemed Universities, reads as follows:-

“The Central Government may, on the advice of the Commission, declare by notification in the Official Gazette, that any institution for higher education, other than a University, shall be deemed to be a University for the purpose of this Act, and on such a declaration being made, all the provisions of this Act shall apply to such institution as if it were a University within the meaning of clause (f) of Section 2.”

It is clear that “a notification” establishes a Deemed University, which is a common element in Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956 and Section 2[h] of RTI Act, 2005. Some discussion on this issue by the High Court would have settled the issue.

Any ways, till then the Argument may continue!

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in