The Indira Gandhi National Open University Act, 1985

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The Indira Gandhi National Open University Act, 1985 (herein after mentioned as the “said act”) was enacted in the year 1985 and it shall come into force on such date as specified by the Central Government in its official gazette. The said act was passed to establish Open University in India to be known as “Indira Gandhi National Open University”, “IGNOU”. The main aim of the said act was to impart education through distance learning programme.  The Open University targeted the disadvantaged sections of the society and aimed at setting up a standard for distance and open education in India.  According to Section 3 of the said act, the head quarters of the IGNOU shall be located at Delhi and it may set up colleges, regional centers or study centers at such other places in India as it may deem fit. The section also permits to set up study centers outside India on prior approval of the visitor. The university shall have perpetual succession and common seal and it can sue and be sued in its own name.

Section 5 of the act confers various powers upon the university. Some of the powers are listed below :

  • To provide directives for vocations, various professions, technology and other branches of knowledge and provision for research
  • To prescribe courses for degrees, diplomas, certificates or for any other purpose.
  • To hold examinations for various courses offered by the university
  • To award honorary degrees or other distinctions in the manner laid down
  • To regulate the manner in which distance programme in accordance with the academic programme can be organized and such rules as required for smooth functioning of the university.

According to provisions laid down in Section 6 of the said act, the University shall have jurisdiction all over India and for study centers outside India. Under section 7 of the act, the university prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, caste, sex, religion and also has the sovereignty to make provisions for appointment or admission of women or persons belonging to weaker sections.  Section 8 elaborates that the President of India shall be the visitor for the purpose of conducting inspections of the university buildings, laboratories etc. Such visit shall be conducted after issuing prior notice of such visit. Section 9 deals with the officers of the university, namely,  The Vice-Chancellor, The Pro-Vice-Chancellors, The Directors, The Registrars, The Finance Officer, and  Such other officers as may be declared by the Statutes to be the officers of the University. Sections 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 deals with the manner of appointment of such officers. Section 16 depicts the authorities of the university to be as follows:

  • The Board of Management
  • The Academic Council
  • The Planning Board
  • The Board of Recognition
  • The School of Studies
  • The Finance Committee

Such other authorities as may be declared by the statues to be the authorities of the University.

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Section 17 to 23 deals with the respective functions of the above mentioned authorities. Section 24 of the act puts forward statutes, whereas section 25 describes the formation of these statutes. The statutes provide for appointment of various officers, management of authorities, pension schemes etc. Section 26 of the act provides for various ordinances which deals with various aspects such as admission of students, courses of studies to be offered, fees for such courses offered, conduct of examination, management of colleges, etc. The initial ordinances shall be made by the Vice-Chancellor subject to prior approval of Central Government and can be amended or repealed by the Board of Management of the University. According to section 27 of the act, the authorities are at the liberty to make regulations for smooth conduct of the business.

Section 28 states that the annual report of the university shall be prepared by the Board of management and shall include steps taken by the University for Fulfillment of its objects. Such copies of the annual report shall be submitted to the visitor and Central Government. According to Section 29 of the act the Annual Accounts of the company shall be prepared under the directions of the Board of Management and such accounts shall be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India atleast once in a year. Section 30 of the act enunciates that every employee of the university must be appointed through a written contract without being inconsistent to the said act or its statutes or any ordinances thereof.

As stated in section 31 of the act, the disputes arising out of the employment contact shall be subject to arbitration clause and there shall be one member nominated by the Board of Management, one such member shall be nominated by the employee concerned and the arbitrator shall be appointed by the visitor. The course of action of the Tribunal shall be prescribed by the Statutes and such decision of the Tribunal shall be final and binding on the parties.

Section 32 deals with provident fund and pension under the act. The University may introduce such scheme of provident fund and pension as it may deem fit and such may be governed by the Central Government under the provisions of The Provident Fund Act. Section 33 refers to the disputes arising out of election of any member under any authority; such disputes shall be referred to the visitor to decide upon.  Section 34 deals with filling up casual vacancies of the member. As stated in Section 35, the proceedings or acts of any authority shall not be annulled due to filling up of casual vacancies of the members. According to Section 36, any act done in good faith by any officer or employee of the university shall be protected against institution of any suit to that effect. Section 37 stands for mode of proof of maintaining university records. Section 38 empowers Central Government to remove any difficulties by publishing order in its official gazette. Section 39 lays down transitional provisions where as Section 40 states that every statutes, provision or ordinance or regulation formed under the said act shall be published in the official gazette and such shall be laid before each House of Parliament for approval and on approval shall be published in the official gazette

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by Dakshaja Yeolekar