On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that the University Grants Commission Regulation, 2009 is constitutionally valid. According to the regulation, UGC had prescribed NET/SLET as the eligibility criteria to be appointed as teachers in colleges and universities. The Court also pointed out the importance of upholding quality in the higher education system by adding such eligibility standards. The bench consisted of Justice T S Thakur and Justice Rohinton F Nariman who were considering the appeals brought before the Court by M Phil and PhD degree holders and dismissed the appeal.
The appellants submitted before the Court that the regulation caused injustice and their opportunity was lost due to such amendment. They also pointed out that regulation was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution and hence was discriminatory. The Court therefore rejected the arguments raised under Article 14. The Court also brought to the notice that the regulations were framed as per the direction of the Central Government to preserve the quality and excellence in higher education. As per the direction, the selection process and criteria were prescribed which is in parity with the provisions of the Constitution.
In addition, the Court opined that previously UGC had made exemption but keeping in mind the need for uniform policies, the Central Government is of the opinion that such exemptions will affect quality education in universities and colleges that comes under UGC. Hence the Court said that the regulation is not arbitrary nor discriminates persons or classes. It is a part of the functions of UGC to maintain standards in education. The qualification was added by the third amendment to the UGC regulation. At the first stage, UGC had exempted M Phil and PhD candidates from NET/SLET. But the Central Government issued a direction to include those persons in the regulation. The petitions filed in Delhi, Madras and Rajasthan High Courts were dismissed whereas the High Court of Allahabad held the regulations ultra vires the Constitution. The appeals were preferred from the order of other three High Courts by M Phil and PhD holders.
by Jewel Panicker.