UGC constitutes Committee regarding unauthorized Off Campuses of Deemed Universities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EduLegaL View:

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

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

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

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

Read Related Articles:

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

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

 

HC says Deemed Universities are at par with Statutory Universities, overrules UGC Guidelines restricting starting new campus and programmes, restricts UGC from disturbing pre-2010 status

In a landmark Judgement, Delhi High Court has ruled that Deemed Universities though established by a Notification u/s 3 of the UGC Act, 1956 is to be treated at par with other Universities which are established statutes of Central / State Government.

The High Court has also held that UGC Act, 1956 does not bar a deemed university from commencing any new course / programme of study or from establishing any new department i.e. other than the one in which a deemed university is already imparting education at the time of being notified as a deemed university, to confer degrees specified in Notifications under Section 22(3).

The High Court was hearing a challenge by a Deemed University to communication by UGC that it had never granted any permission / approval to the University to start certain Departments and that as per the UGC norms a deemed university can on its own start only those courses which are allied to courses already approved by the UGC and that for all those courses which are not allied to the courses already approved with prior approval of UGC is required. UGC had also directed the University not to admit students.

It was argued by the University that there is no provision in the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 which requires an institution, once conferred the status of deemed University, to seek prior approval of the UGC for starting a course / programme. It was also argued that neither the 1992 Guidelines nor the 2000 Guidelines formulated by the UGC for declaring an institution as deemed university also included any provision / condition requiring deemed university to obtain prior approval to start Programmes / Courses / Departments.

UGC contended that 2000 Guidelines required deemed universities to submit proposals for starting various academic courses. Similarly 2004 Guidelines “for establishing of new departments within the Campus, setting up of Off-Campus Center(s) / Institution(s) / Off- shore Campus and starting Distance Education Programmes by the Deemed Universities” also provided inter alia that the deemed universities intending to open a new department in its campus or an Off-Campus Centre / Institution shall approach the UGC at least six months prior to opening of such center and that the deemed universities desirous of introducing a new Course / Programme in a professional subject shall comply with all the requirements of the Statutory Professional Councils and obtain their approval before approaching UGC.

It was emphatically submitted that UGC is empowered by Section 12(j) of the Act to perform such other functions as may be prescribed or as may be deemed necessary for advancing the cause of higher education in India or as may be incidental or conducive to the discharge of its functions and in exercise of which powers, had issued the Guidelines aforesaid. UGC also said that it is entitled to treat deemed Universities as a separate and distinct class and to require them to seek prior approval before starting new Courses/Departments, because deemed Universities are fundamentally different from Universities; while a University is established under a Central or a State Act and does not require recommendations of the UGC, a deemed University is not so established and requires recommendation of the University to function as a University.

The Hon’ble Court rejected the contention of UGC, that Section 22 prohibits deemed Universities from setting up a new department or commencing a new course or programme and held that once an institution of higher education has been declared as a deemed University, it can confer the degrees specified in the notifications issued in exercise of power under Section 22(3) and the said Section cannot be read as restricting the right of a deemed University to confer degrees only in those courses/programmes in which it was imparting education in at the time of being declared a University.

The Court also categorically observed that UGC Act, 1956 does not contain any distinction between a university established or incorporated by a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act and a deemed university. Rather, Section 3 of the Act, as aforesaid, expressly provides that an institution of high education once declared and notified as a deemed university shall be treated as if a university as defined in Section 2(f) of the Act.

Having settled this position of law, the Court proceeded to examine, whether the Act empowers the UGC to impose any such condition on deemed Universities, as was done vide Guidelines of 2000 and 2004?

The Court though generally while interpreting powers and functions of UGC of determination of standards in Universities observed that it certainly includes within its sweep a provision requiring Universities / deemed Universities to obtain approval or prior approval for commencing a new course/programme or for establishing a new department.

The Court on reading of Section 12 of the Act held that UGC could not have in exercise of powers under Section 12 issued a direction / Guideline prohibiting deemed Universities from establishing new department or commencing new programme / course, as Section 12 anything done under Section 12 is to be done in consultation with Universities. The Court noted that it is not the case of UGC that the directives / Guidelines on which it relies to contend that it had prohibited deemed Universities from commencing new course / programme or from establishing new department were issued in consultation with deemed Universities.

The Court thus held that said Guidelines / directives thus cannot be held to be in accordance with Section 12 and thus are of no avail and UGC could not have insisted requiring the deemed Universities to obtain its prior approval before commencing a new course on basis of Guidelines.

The Court though held that it can be done on basis of Regulations, which UGC has framed in year 2010. However, the Court also held that 2010 Regulations have not been given retrospective effect  the same could not have prejudiced the new departments established or new courses/programmes commenced by the deemed University and in establishing/commencing which the deemed University spent considerable effort and money and/or the students admitted thereto or had been conferred degrees thereunder.

The Court eventually felt that subject University is entitled to the declaration that the new departments established by it and the new courses commenced by it (to confer degrees specified in Notifications under Section 22(3) of the UGC Act) prior to coming into force on 21st May, 2010 of the 2010 Regulations are valid. However any course commenced by the petitioner University after the coming into force on 21st May, 2010 of the 2010 Regulations and without obtaining the prior approval of the UGC shall be invalid.

EduLegaL View:

I wish the Petitioners and the Respondents, would have equally pointed out to the Court that Regulations of 2010 is also under litigation and its constitutional validity has been challenged. We would have been entitled by some adjudicatory observations in this case as well.

This Judgement is going to have huge bearing in the cases, wherein UGC has recently issued Notice to 10 Deemed Universities asking them to shut thier off-campuses. This Judgement basically nullifies the notice.

 

 

MHRD seeks transfer of several Petitions challenging UGC Deemed University Regulations, 2010 to SC

University Grants Commission in the year 2010, has notified University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010, which was made applicable to prospective as well as existing Deemed Universities.   Several Deemed Universities had challenged the provisions of the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010 in different High Courts in India. The Deemed Universities felt that the Regulations interfered with the autonomy of the Institutions. The Regulations also in their view placed unreasonable restriction on rules relating to governance, admission, fee structure etc.

The Deemed Universities based in Tamilnadu made the first challenge. Though initially STATUS-QUO was granted in the matter, but later by a detailed Judgement, the challenge by Deemed Universities based in Tamilnadu was over ruled and the legality and validity of University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 was upheld. The Deemed Universities in Tamilnadu later challenged the Judgement pronounced by Single Judge before Division Bench. The matter is pending for determination before the Division Bench, however the Court has ordered that STATUS QUO will be maintained.

Following the suit, certain Deemed Universities in Karnataka also challenged the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 in Karnataka High Court. In some of the Petition there, stay was granted on the Regulations and some the Court was pleased to order STATUS QUO in favour of the Petitioner as against UGC and MHRD. Later vide detailed Judgement dated 22.05.2014 the Hon’ble Court declared University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010, was declared to be invalid and unconstitutional. UGC and MHRD have both filed appeals independently against the Judgement before Division Bench.

One of the challenge was also filed before Punjab & Haryana High Court. Though no interim orders have been passed in the case, the matter is pending determination in the Court.

While Interim Stay was prevailing, UGC continued to amend the Regulations from time to time, which raised a critical issue as to, did UGC had the legal competency to amend the Regulations, while Courts in India hearing cases relating to challenge and Interim Order restraining UGC from enforcing the Regulations were prevailing.

MHRD has now filed Transfer Petitions before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Transfer Petition (Civil) Nos. 1555-1561 of 2014 seeking transfer of all the cases relating to challenge to University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 before Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.

The Transfer Petition were called before the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 11.11.2014. The Supreme Court adjourned these matter on request of the Government to 18.11.2014. The matter is now scheduled to come up before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 03.02.2015.

EduLegaL View

University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 applies to all the Deemed Universities. Different High Courts in India took different view of the Regulations resulting in conflict as regards its validity and applicability, as one High Court said it is valid and another said it is invalid. It is appropriate that considering the universal applicability of the Regulations, the Highest Court of the country rules on its validity and legality, so that issue is settled once and for all.

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

UGC relaxes criteria to appoint Chancellor for Certain Deemed Universities

 

UGC has relaxed the provisions contained in Clause 5.2 of the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 relating to appointment of Chancellor  to allow President / Trustee/ promoter of the sponsoring Society/Trust/Company or  his/her close relative as its Chancellor.

Earlier, in the year 2010, UGC had notified UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010. In the said Regulations, vide Clause 5, it had provided for Governance System of the Deemed University. Clause 5.2 of the Regulations, prescribed that Chancellor of the University apart from being an eminent educationist shall be person other than President of the Sponsoring Society or his / her close relatives, thereby separating the Sponsoring Body and Deemed University.

UGC, in its meeting held on 13th June 2014 while considering suggestion received from MHRD to amend UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010, has relaxed the provisions contained in Clause 5.2 of the Regulations.

UGC has now resolved that Institutions Deemed to be Universities, which have been conferred that status for 25 years or more, and have a valid NAAC  Grade A accreditation and have also been given ‘A’ Grade by the Tandon Committee may be permitted relaxation to the provisions of clause 5.2 of the UGC Institutions Deemed to be University Regulations, 2010 to the extent that the sponsoring society/trust/company of such an Institution can also appoint the President/Trustee/promoter of the sponsoring Society/Trust/Company or his/her close relative as its Chancellor provided that such a person is an eminent educationist or a distinguished public figure. It has accordingly sought to amend the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010.

EduLegaL View:

While UGC is amending the Regulations to correct the errors done by it earlier, it 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.

It should reconsider several other provisions which encroach upon the fundamental right of Deemed Universities to establish and administer educational institutions, which grant them right to constitute governing body, admit students, lay down reasonable fee structure, appoint employees, etc.

On instruction of MHRD, it has again tried to re-enforce the TANDON COMMITTEE, which has been virtually put to naught by Hon’ble Apex Court

However, it is certainly a good start.

 mail@edulegal.in