Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bills on higher education unconstitutional: ICU

A newly-formed body of universities today termed as "unconstitutional" a series of bills aimed at reforming higher education in the country and demanded that they be referred to a committee headed by a Supreme Court judge.

The Indian Council of Universities (ICU), which held its first meeting here, discussed the Educational Tribunal Bill, 2010, the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in technical educational institutions, medical educational institutions and Universities Bill , 2010 and the Higher Education and Research Bill , 2010 which is yet to be introduced in Parliament.

The opposition from the body comes close on the heels of a similar resistance HRD Minister Kapil Sibal faced in the Rajya Sabha with the Educational Tribunal Bill passed by the Lok Sabha. The meeting, attended by senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Oscar Fernandes as head of a parliamentary standing committee on HRD, felt that the bills were "unconstitutional and their constitutional validity needs to be checked", ICU president S.S. Pabla, also the Vice Chancellor of Sikkim Manipal University, told reporters. He claimed that Fernandes suggested that the ICU representatives should place its views before the parliamentary committee. The Congress leader, however, was not present at the press briefing.

The ICU at present has 60 members, which include chancellors, vice-chancellors of private, central, state and deemed universities and institutions of national importance. The body demanded that all the bills on higher education be referred to the top law officers or a committee be set up under a Supreme Court judge to check their validity in view of constitutional provisions distributing the legislative powers related to higher education among states and the Centre.

In a statement, ICU claimed that Parliament can only be empowered to enact laws on higher education only after the Constitution is amended. "Constitution of India categorically prohibits Parliament to regulate higher education while empowering states to do so...," the body said in the statement. The members also alleged that they were against "over regulation" and believed in evolving a mechanism of self regulation on the lines of TV broadcasters.

Source: The Economic Times, October 16, 2010
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