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The Supreme Court Friday declined the central government’s plea for more time to complete the scrutiny of responses from 44 deemed universities threatened with the prospect of de-recognition.

However, the court allowed the plea by the human resource development ministry to continue with the services of the Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor (since superannuated) S.K. Ray on the three-member Committee of Officers carrying out the scrutiny of the responses of 44 deemed universities.

The court was told that the continuation of Ray on the panel was necessary in the interest of justice and expeditious disposal of the case. The application said that the replacement of Ray at this stage would be a setback as some of the institutions that have already been given hearing may have to be re-heard.

Disallowing the HRD ministry’s plea for ten more weeks, the apex court bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma said the entire exercise of scrutiny of responses and submission of report (to the court) should be completed before the next date of hearing Aug 24.

Justice Bhandari told Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh that if the committee gave hearing to two institutions per day, it would be able to complete the task of hearing the remaining 30 universities and prepare the report for submission to the court.

Mocking at the plea of the HRD ministry for more time, the court said: ‘If you could earlier complete the hearing of 60 deemed universities in three days, you can surely give hearing to 30 institutions in more than a month’s time.’

The HRD ministry informed the court that the Committee of the Officers headed by Special Secretary (Technical) Ashok Thakur has already scrutinized the cases of 14 universities. The third member of the committee is Additional Secretary (Technology Enabled Learning) N.K. Sinha.

The HRD ministry said it needed more time to accord ‘patient hearing to the remaining institutions’ and prepare a well reasoned report for submission to the court.The HRD ministry told the court that institutions under scrutiny have given voluminous data as a part of their responses which is required to be scrutinized in detail by the Committee of Officers and it is a time consuming process.

The ninistry in its application said the central government will not be in a position to complete the scrutiny and submit its reasoned report within the stipulated time.

The apex court by its April 11, 2011, order had directed the central government to give a proper hearing to all the 44 deemed universities and submit a reasoned report to it. The court had listed the matter for hearing July 19, 2011.

However, since the bench of Justice Bhandari and Justice Verma did not sit July 19, the matter was adjourned to Aug 24, 2011.

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