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The Central Universities Act was enacted by the Legislative Department under the Ministry of Law and Justice on March 20, 2009 and the Act came into effect with retrospective effect from January 15, 2009. The Act intends to constitute and integrate for teaching as well as research of various states and other issues connected with the Central universities.

The Act declared three universities as body corporate and also provides for the constitution of universities in different states with the powers and functions as that of a body corporate as prescribed in the first schedule to the Act. The headquarters of the universities shall be decided by the Central Government and publish in the Gazette of India. The universities shall have continuous succession with the right to litigate. The contracts, rights and obligations of the old universities shall be transferred to the universities newly declared as body corporate.

The main purpose of the universities shall be to publicize and develop knowledge by imparting information and research skills in different branches of learning. It shall also formulate unique provisions for integrated studies in humanities, science and technology, social studies etc, take procedures for encouraging innovative way of learning and inter-disciplinary research and learning. The Universities shall also take initiative for practical training and establish connections with the industrial sector for the progression of science and technology. It shall give special attention to the social and economic conditions of the country and the well being of the people in the field of intellectual development and academic results. The Act further grants certain powers to the universities:

  • To impart information in natural sciences, engineering, medical education, humanities, technology, engineering and other subjects determined by the university and provide facilities for research;
  • To issue degree, diploma or certificates to person after conducting examinations, evaluation of the answer sheets but according to the stipulations of the university;
  • To conduct extracurricular activities, training facilities and extension services;
  • To grant honorary degrees and provide distance learning facilities;
  • To recognize and appoint different positions in the universities like principal, professor, assistant professor etc;
  • To grant recognition to universities to provide higher education to the people and shall invalidate such recognition;
  • To create ministerial as well as managerial posts to discharge functions of the university;
  • To grant fellowships, scholarships and prizes to the students;
  • To conduct seminars, symposiums, workshops for the students and academicians;
  • To declare autonomous status to educational institutions or departments;
  • To prescribe standards of teaching including admission and conduct of examination etc.

The universities are also entrusted with certain other powers as provided under the Act. The universities shall maintain high levels and standards of teaching and research and shall take all steps necessary for the purpose. The universities shall not discriminate any persons on the basis caste, sex or religion and shall not conduct any test relating to religious beliefs in granting admissions and selecting employees. Every University shall have the President as its Visitor, who shall appoint officials to review the works of the universities and supervise and inspect persons and working of the universities. The universities shall consist of Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Pro Vice Chancellor, deans, Registrar, Finance officers etc.

The main authorities under the Act are Court, Executive Council, Academic Council, Board of studies and Finance Committee and other authorities as notified by the University. The Court shall review the policies of the Board and suggest steps to improve and advance the universities, consider and pass the audit reports and advise or recommend the visitor. The main academic body shall be the academic council which conducts the general supervision and control of the universities.

The Act amended the Madhya Pradesh Act, 1973 and the Presidents Act, 1973 and repealed the Central Universities Ordinance, 2009. Recently in 2012, a bill has been introduced in Rajya Sabha to amend the Central Universities Act, 2009. The bill seeks to insert a new section to provide special provision to the universities of Bihar.