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The South Asian University Act, 2009

An Act no. 8 of the year 2009 namely, ‘The South Asian University Act, 2009’ has passed by the Houses of Parliament and was finally assented by the President of India on 11th January, 2009. The Act makes provisions for establishment of South Asian University by giving effect to the Agreement which was signed as Member State of South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation- SAARC on 4th April, 2007. Under the said Agreement there was a provision that the location of main campus of the University should be in India. As such the South Asian University was established in the year 2009 also called a University established by SAARC Nations. Moreover, the provisions of the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947 have been extended to the University by the publishing a notification on 15th January, 2009 by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The provisions of the present enactment were sought to be extended to the whole of India and also to the campuses or otherwise centres established outside the Indian territories. And the same has been brought into force on 23rd January, 2009.

There are certain Articles of the agreement which was signed by SAARC Nations, which are also provided under Schedule annexed to the Act, which are required under section 3 to have force of law in India. The most important provisions dealing with the incorporation of the said South Asian University are given under section 4 of the Act, where it is clearly said that the Central Government to establish a corporate body i.e. University under the aforementioned name and title for giving effect to the terms of said agreement. Delhi is proposed under this provision to be the head quarter of the said University and so far as other campuses or centres are concerned the University is vested with the authority to establish either within or outside India, however, should not cross the SAARC region. Moreover, a provision to have Governing Board for the said University is given under section 6 of the Act, where it is said that such Governing Board should consist of 2 Members from every Member States of SAARC and also there should be a President of University comprising Governing Board. Act also speaks of appointment of Chairperson for the said board.

A list of objectives of the said University were provided under section 7 of the Act including dissemination and advancing knowledge, wisdom and understanding by given facilities including instructional and research in its branches; taking measures to promote innovations in teaching and learning process, etc. and other given objectives. Similarly, a number of powers of the University enlisted under section 8 of the Act.

There is provision against discrimination, saying that the University is open for every persons irrespective of his gender, caste, creed, etc. And the Foreign Minister of the current Chair of the SAARC will be treated as Visitor of the University and the Statutes should provide for powers of the Visitor. And regarding other officials including President of the said University the section 11 of the Act makes provision. Similarly, a list of authorities of the University is given under section 15 of the Act. Such authorities includes the Executive Council, Academic Council, etc. And other relevant provisions are provided in the Act, under its subsequent provisions.

The other important provisions are dealing with power of making Statute which should make provisions as to powers of visitor, Chairperson of Governing Board, and other matters given under section 20 of the Act. The Authorities of the University vested with power to make bye-laws of the University which should provide for matters dealing with the business of the such authorities, etc. Further the provisions regarding preparation of the annual report making audits of accounts are given under section 24 and 25 of the Act. An immunity is also been given to the University and to its officials, employees against the legal implication and sanction in respect of their actions being taken in good faith and under this Act. Also, whatever matters arose in respect to the interpretation or application of the concerned SAARC agreement, the same to be referred to the Arbitration Council of SAARC. Any difficulties while giving effect to the provisions of this Act or etc., the same to be removed by the Central Government by providing provisions.

by F.aim Khalilkhan Pathan.