UGC to declare 2nd semester results of students pursuing optometry course: Bombay High Court

In an interim relief to 40 students pursuing a course in optometry, the Bombay High Court has directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to declare their second semester results pending since last year.

A bench of Justices R M Sawant and S V Kotwal was earlier this week hearing a petition filed by Lotus College of Optometry, which had admitted the 40 students as the first batch of its four-year BSc degree in Optometry (health specialists in eye care) in 2016.

The course was affiliated to an open university.

However, a question mark now looms over the fate of the course as well as that of the students since, soon after their first semester exams in 2016, the Maharashtra government issued a communication to the UGC stating that Optometry was a medical course and therefore could not be affiliated with an open university.

As per the current rules of the state government, all medical courses are governed by the process laid down by the Maharashtra Medical Sciences Authority.

However, since the Juhu college had already admitted the above students, it moved the High Court challenging the above communication.

While a hearing on the main plea is pending in the HC, various benches of the court have been issuing orders from time to time to help the above students appear for their semester exams.

Following directions of the court, the students were permitted by the state and the UGC to appear for their first, second, and third semester exams.

While they are waiting now for admissions to the fourth semester, the results of their second semester exams were held back by authorities on the ground that the issue of course’s recognition was yet to be decided upon.

Incidentally, their third semester results were declared by authorities after some persuasion by students.

The bench, however, noted that since the students had already been admitted before the breach in procedure was flagged by the state, their interest must not be prejudiced.

It thus directed the state and UGC to resolve the issue over their second semester results and publish the same.

“The relief of declaration of the results of the second semester is sought on the ground that otherwise, the students will not be allowed to appear for the 4th semester.

“Having regard to this piquant situation which has arisen namely on account of the fact that the admissions have been carried out by the petitioner (the college) without following the prescribed procedure.

“However, with a view to see to it that the students, who have already gained admissions are not prejudiced, we direct the authorities to declare the results,” the bench said.

The bench also said that it will begin hearing the main issue of recognition of the course in June.

Disabled people have right to get higher education: SC

Disabled people have right to get higher education: SC
Disabled people have right to get higher education: SC

People with disablility have a right to get higher education and not making adequate provisions to facilitate their proper education would amount to “discrimination”, the Supreme Court said today.

Ir directed the government institutions of higher education and other such institutions, which were receiving aid from the government, to comply with the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

The Act provides for reservation of not less than five per cent seats for persons with benchmark disabilities.

A bench of justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said that appropriate consequential action under the provisions of the Act would be initiated against the defaulting educational institutions.

It asked the University Grants Commission (UGC) to constitute a committee to consider the feasibility of having guidelines for accessibility of students with disabilities in universities and colleges.

It said the committee would undertake a detailed study to make provisions in respect of accessibility and facilities of teaching for disabled persons and would also suggest the modalities for implementing those suggestions, their funding and monitoring.

“The expert committee may also consider feasibility of constituting an in-house body in each educational institution (of teachers, staff, students and parents) for taking care of day-to-day needs of differently abled persons as well as for implementation of the schemes that would be devised by the expert committee,” the bench said, adding that the exercise be completed by June 30 next year.

It said that an action taken report in this regard be placed before it in July 2018.

The court’s verdict came on a plea which had raised three key issues, including the non-implementation of reservation of seats in educational institutions as provided in the Act and provision for proper access to orthopaedically disabled persons so allow them to freely move in educational institutions.

The bench noted that a provision under the 2016 Act provided that persons with benchmark disabilities shall be given an upper age relaxation of five years for admission in institutions of higher education.

“Accordingly, we direct that all those institutions which are covered by the obligations provided under Section 32 of the Disabilities Act, 2016 shall comply with the provisions of Section 32 while making admission of students in educational courses of higher education each year,” it said.

The court said such educational institutions shall submit a list of number of disabled persons admitted in each course every year to the chief commissioner or state commissioner.

It said it raised the critical issue of creating a level- playing field where all the citizens have equality of fair opportunities to enable them to realise their full potential and experience well-being.

“To ensure the level-playing field, it is not only essential to give necessary education to the persons suffering from the disability, it is also imperative to see that such education is imparted to them in a fruitful manner,” it said.

“Not making adequate provisions to facilitate proper education to such persons, therefore, would amount to discrimination,” it said.

The bench said that such requirement was to ensure that a student with disability, after proper education, would be able to lead an independent, economically self-sufficient and fully participatory life.

Regarding the law colleges, the court said intimation about number of admission given to disabled students be sent to the Bar Council of India (BCI).

“Other educational institutions will notify the compliance, each year, to the UGC. It will be within the discretion of the BCI and/or UGC to carry out inspections of such educational institutions to verify as to whether the provisions are complied with or not,” it said.

( Source – PTI )

Delhi HC stays order upholding JNU admission policy based on UGC reg

Delhi HC stays order upholding JNU admission policy based on UGC reg
Delhi HC stays order upholding JNU admission policy based on UGC reg

The Delhi High Court has stayed its single judge order upholding the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) admission policy for MPhil and PhD courses based on the UGC regulations.

The July 2016 regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC) had put a cap on the number of students per professor/supervisor in MPhil and PhD courses in all varsities.

A single judge of the high court had held that the JNU admission policy was bound by the UGC regulations and the varsity had to accept them without any deviation.

It had given the finding while dismissing some students’ plea challenging the JNU’s admission policy based on the UGC regulations.

However, a two-judge bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra, on an appeal filed by the students, has stayed “the effect and operation of the findings on law” of the single judge till April 28.

The bench passed the interim order as the findings of the single judge “would have wide ramifications” and the appellant students had “made out a prima facie case”.

“In view thereof, it is directed that till the next date of hearing, there shall be a stay of the effect and operation of the findings on law of the single judge,” the bench said.

The students, in their appeal, have contended that the single judge had “erroneously granted complete supremacy to the applicability of the UGC Act”.

( Source – PTI )

Set up grievance redressal system in all varsities: Delhi HC to UGC

Set up grievance redressal system in all varsities: Delhi HC to UGC
Set up grievance redressal system in all varsities: Delhi HC to UGC

Observing that all colleges and universities in the country need to have a mechanism to redress grievances of students, the Delhi High Court today directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to set up such a system in all varsities within four months.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said appointment of an ‘ombudsman’ in every university and a grievance redressal committee (GRC) for every college or group of colleges were “mandatory” and were provided for under the UGC (Grievance Redressal) Regulations of 2012.

The court said failure of the universities to appoint ombudsman or to constitute GRC for colleges “would defeat the very object of grievance redressal mechanism provided under the regulations”.

It also directed Delhi University (DU) to “take necessary steps forthwith and appoint the ombudsman” in terms of provisions of the regulations “as expeditiously as possible preferably within a period of four months from today”.

The court’s ruling came while disposing of a PIL filed by a former law student, who had alleged non-compliance of the UGC regulations with regard to appointment of ombudsman by universities, particularly DU.

As per the regulations, the ombudsman “shall be a part-time officer appointed for a period of three years or until he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier”, the bench noted in its judgement.

( Source – PTI )

PIL on Kolhapur varsity VC appointments dismissed: Bombay High Court

PIL on Kolhapur varsity VC appointments dismissed: Bombay High Court
PIL on Kolhapur varsity VC appointments dismissed: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court today dismissed a public interest litigation challenging the appointments of the vice-chancellors of Mumbai University and Shivaji University in Kolhapur after finding no merit in it.

“We find no merit in the contentions raised in the petition and hence it deserves to be dismissed,” a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice A K Menon said.

The PIL, filed by activist Suresh Patilkhede, claimed that the appointments of the vice-chancellors which had been made under the Maharashtra Universities Act was erroneous and should have been made according to the regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Senior counsel Ashutosh Kumbakoni, appearing for the government, argued that the regulations of UGC submitted in 2011 were not binding on the government.

“On February 15, 2011, the government passed an order stating that the UGC regulations are just recommendations and are not mandatory. The government decided not to adopt the recommendations, including point 7.3 of the UGC regulations which pertains to the appointment of vice-chancellors,” Kumbakoni argued.

He said that the petitioner has not challenged this government order.

Accepting the contentions of the state government, the high court today refused any relief to the petitioner and dismissed the PIL.

The government had on June 21 appointed Sanjay Deshmukh as the new vice-chancellor of Mumbai University. Deshmukh will take over from Dr Rajan Welukar whose term will end on July 6.

Decide on deemed varsity status of 44 institutions, SC to UGC

bbThe Supreme Court has asked the UGC to examine a report on 44 institutions recommended to be deprived of their deemed university status after their academic standard was found to be far from what was expected and decide their fate.

A bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Vikramajit Sen said it was only concerned with the legality of the continuance of deemed university status with respect to the 44 institutions.

It said in its order passed Tuesday that there was “some conflict” between the report prepared by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and that of the Prof. P.N. Tandon committee.

Noting that there were three reports – one by the Tandon committee, another by the UGC and still another by the committee of officers, the court said the UGC “had no occasion to examine” the Tandon report and the other report has not been placed before the UGC.

The court said the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010, enables both the central government and the UGC to inspect the institutions which are deficient in terms of academic standards and infrastructure.

It directed the UGC to examine both Tandon’s and the other report.

The court said institutions were “free to raise their objections against the reports” and the UGC has to consider the same and take a decision in accordance with the law.

After examining the reports and hearing the 44 institutions, the court said the “UGC has then to tender its advice to the central government with its report”.

It, however, noted the UGC’s advice was not binding on the government “but has to be given due weight since the UGC is an expert statutory authority”.

The court also made it clear that it has not given its “stamp of approval to any of the reports and it is for the UGC to consider all the reports, with notice to the 44 institutions, in accordance with law”.

Tandon headed a committee set up to review existing institutions deemed to be universities. The committee in its report submitted in October 2009 divided the institutions into three categories.

In the first category, the report found their working satisfactory and recommended their continued status as deemed university.

In the second category, the committee found them deficient in some respect but recommended giving them three years time to graduate to the first category.

However, it said 44 institutions faced the prospect of being denotified as deemed universities, as they “neither on past performance nor on their promise for the future, have the attributes, in our considered opinion, to retain their status as universities”.

(Source: IANS)

Court notice to UGC over private varsities

himachal high courtTaking suo motu cognisance of a media report, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has issued notice to the University Grants Commission (UGC), asking it about the steps it has initiated to implement regulations pertaining to establishment and operation of private universities in the state.
From the news item that has appeared in The Tribune, it transpires that the UGC is abdicating its authority bordering on non-performance and disregarding the violations committed by the private universities, a division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh observed last week.
The court observed that “this is polluting the environment of quality education to be imparted by the universities”. The high court Oct 19 set aside the State Private Educational Institutions (Regulatory) Act of 2010 that empowered a government regulatory commission to monitor universities. The court also directed the state through the chief secretary and the principal secretary (education) to file its reply on the issue.
It also sent a notice to registrars of all private universities to file their response pertaining to irregularities mentioned in the news item. The UGC, the state and the universities have been told to file their respective replies by Nov 13.
It was mentioned in the news item that the UGC seemed to be unconcerned about enforcing its regulations pertaining to the establishment and operation of private universities and till date it had conducted inspections of only five universities. After the judgment, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has made it clear that a regulatory body was required to maintain quality of education.
“We are considering to file an appeal against the high court judgment. We are taking legal opinion. A final decision in this regard will be taken only after that,” he told reporters here. The judgment to quash the State Private Educational Institutions (Regulatory) Act came on the petition of the Himachal Pradesh Private Universities Management Association, which was seeking setting aside of the act and quashing of notices issued to them.
The bench of Chief Justice Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh had declared the act unconstitutional on the ground that the state legislature was incompetent to enact such a law on a subject covered by the field occupied by Entry 66 of the Union List.
Entry 66 of the Union List stipulates that a teaching university will not come within the purview of the state legislation on account of the specific nature of determination of standards in institutions for higher education being in the Union List for which parliament alone is competent to legislate.
“Accordingly, we may have to declare the Act of 2010 ultra vires and void ab initio,” they ruled. Official sources told IANS that the regulatory commission had played a crucial role in pointing out irregularities by the universities. These were: enrolling students even before the institution came into existence; admitting students even without fulfilling minimum qualification; filling more than approved number of seats and registering research scholars to Ph.D courses without UGC approval.
(Source: IANS)

Court dismisses DU teachers’ plea challenging semester system

The Delhi High Court Thursday dismissed the petition a group of Delhi University teachers challenging the implementation of the semester system in the undergraduate courses, saying the courts were “ill-equipped” to arrive at a decision on the issue.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Veena Birbal sid: “We have consciously not been drawn into the debate as to whether the semester system is more appropriate than the annual system or vice-versa. The reason for this is clear. The courts are ill-equipped to comment on such matters or arrive at value judgments.”

“These are matters for experts in the field of education. We have examined the matters from the standpoint of law and have reached the conclusion that the writ petitions are liable to be dismissed,” the bench added.

The Delhi University Teachers Association(DUTA) moved the high court challenging the semester system and also demanded quashing of the notification.

Following a letter from the University Grant Commission (UGC) on March 21, 2010, DU has implemented the semester system for undergraduate students.

The petitioner had said that before issuing the notification there should be a transparent procedure in which teachers, students, college dean and academicians sit together and sort out the problem.

(Source: IANS)

Book online ragging complaints and get action within 15 minutes

From July 26, students at universities and professional institutions can lodge online complaints against ragging or harassment by anyone on the campus. This is being done to ensure that the complaints are followed up with the institutes’ administration and police within 15 minutes of receiving a complaint.

 The HRD ministry is likely to unveil the portal on July 26, and the facility is being developed with the help of Rajendra Kachroo, father of Aman, who lost his life to ragging at a medical college in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, in 2009.

 The University Grants Commission (UGC) took up the initiative at the behest of a Supreme Court order. While hearing ragging-related cases, the Supreme Court had ordered the government on May 8, 2009, to take several measures to combat the menace, including setting up of a central crisis hotline and anti-ragging database containing the details of each student.

 “The portal will help students lodge their complaints, and it will be our responsibility to reach the administration quickly. All our communication, talks and discussions would be posted on the web so that the victim has complete access to what has happened since s/he lodged the compliant. The entire file on such cases will be uploaded,” Rajendra Kachroo.

 The portal also promises to end the practice of students being made to file an affidavit on non-judicial stamp paper pledging against ragging. “They can download the affidavit from the website, and fill relevant details for submission. Affidavit filing will not only be hassle free, but also help create a database of all students,” he added.

 The UGC had appointed the Aman Satya Kachroo Trust, of which Rajendra is the founding trustee, as the monitoring agency of the anti-ragging call centre. Now, the call centre receives about 35-40 distressed calls from students across the country. Kachroo said that most of the complaints are against harassment. “The launching of government website will have a greater impact on students, and we expect increased awareness among students. It will encourage them to report in case they are targeted or harassed by anyone on the campus,” he added.

Court questions Delhi University on Ph.D. admission

The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the Delhi University to give details of the criteria it has set for pursuing Ph.D. if an applicant is working.

The court was hearing a plea of Metropolitan Magistrate Twinkle Wadhwa, who sought its direction to the university to consider her application for enrolment to the Ph.D. programme.

The division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said: “The university should file an affidavit regarding criteria of the university required for pursuing Ph.D., in the condition applicant is working.”

“If a teacher of the Delhi University can be allowed to pursue a Ph.D. course to enhance academic acumen, why should a judge be compelled to take study leave to go for a research programme?” said the petition.

During the arguments, the bench said Ph.D. was a fulltime course and needed concentration as it was related to research work.

“If one is doing two works at a time, the person’s mind may get distracted,” said Justice Khanna, adding that while pursuing LL.M., students needed 75 percent attendance and they could even attend classes in two shifts, which was not possible with the Ph.D.

The case would be heard next Sep 27.

During the last hearing, the university claimed that it was merely following a regulation of the University Grants Commission.

The UGC defended its rule, arguing it was meant to maintain academic standards.

“The Ph.D. is a full-time programme for which the student needs to devote himself or herself for obtaining such degree. The UGC is of the view that in order to

maintain standards of research degrees, a degree in the nature of Ph.D. cannot be termed part-time,” the university told the court.

Wadhwa approached the court last year after the university refused to allow her to pursue a Ph.D. course as she was employed as a judicial officer. The university asked her to take study leave for two years.

“The impugned rule under the 2008 regulation was arbitrary and vitiated from unequal treatment because while everyone else was required to apply for a two-year

study leave, those employed as teachers in Delhi University colleges and schools could pursue the course and work at the same time,” said Wadhwa in her petition.

The petition requested the court to quash the university’s ordinance necessitating such condition, and direct the university to consider her application for enrolment to the Ph.D. programme.