Central government gearing up to frame “criteria” for grant of recognition to private varsities

The Central Government, deciding to get its act together told the Supreme Court that it has finalised its decision to craft a “criteria” pertaining to the issue of grant of recognition to private universities in the country. The Centre said that the particular decision had been taken after deliberations with all those who held a stake in the process and an interest in the matter, including the University Grants Commission.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, while appearing on behalf of the Ministry of Human Resources Development pointed out that the Union of India i.e. the Central Government has decided to formulate appropriate guidelines for the process of granting recognition to universities after due consultation with all the stakeholders like the University Grant Commission and All India Council for Technical Education, in order to ensure that there are no anomalies or glitches in the process of formulation itself. The ASG was arguing before a bench of Justices DipakMisra and VikramjitSen, as he promised that the guidelines could be ready within the next three months, for further implementation.

However, the Court asked the Central Government to inform the court about the steps which have been taken with respect to the questions raised by the UGC against 41 deemed universities, and the inspection carried out on them, in order to confirm the report’s findings.

The bench opined that the CG is obligated to come to a conclusion with respect to the inspection and decide as soon as possible. Thereafter, it allowed the counsel appearing for the 41 deemed universities to reply to the Central Government’s report after the same is filed with the Court registrar.

However, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, who is appearing for the UGC, pointed out that only 8 deemed universities had been inspected till date and seven out of these 8 universities can be granted an extension on their recognition for one year despite the fact that they are deficient in the fulfilment of certain guidelines required for them to be adhered to. The remaining GurukulKangraVishwavidyalaya was deficient even in faculty and infrastructural amenities.

GurukulKangraVishwavidyalaya, arguing through senior advocate P H Parekh, stated that the Central Government has stopped the aid being given to the university while the institution itself does not have any provisions for management quota or capitation fees. However, the Court observed that grant/aid cannot be asked for as a matter of right or privilege, and promptly asked the institution to respond to the government’s report which is to be filed within 3 weeks.

Senior Advocates Rajeev Dhawan and Vikas Singh, also appearing for some private universities, stated that while they are not opposed in principle to the obligatory statutory physical verification of the universities, they are fearful of the negative stigma of being granted adverse grades post-inspection/verification procedure vis-à-vis the P.N. Tandon committee report.

Earlier, when the UGC was chided by the Court for delay in the inspection process, the Commission argued that the process was taking longer because the UGC is averse to following the methodology adopted by the P. N. Tandon Committee. The UGC said that it could not formulate the report without first giving an opportunity to the defaulter universities to be heard.

The universities alleged to be in default by the P.N. Tandon Committee took recourse to the Supreme Court after the said committee report classified them in grade ‘C’. Consequently, the Court had asked the UGC to set up a committee to hear all such universities and formulate a report which is to be submitted before the Court and to the Government. The Committee was to be chaired by Mr. H. Devaraj, UGC vice-chairperson.

by Siddhartha Singh.