Friday, May 07, 2010

Supreme Court asks 44 deemed universities to admit students

The Supreme Court today allowed 44 deemed universities spread across the country to admit students for the academic year beginning July 2010. The court rejected a plea by the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry, which had sought an injunction on fresh admissions to these institutes. A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Gyan Sudha Misra said it could not pass an injunction, as the validity of a high-powered committee appointed by the ministry to review the working of 130 deemed universities across the country was itself under challenge. The committee, chaired by educationist P. N. Tandon, had recommended de-recognition of these institutes as they had failed to meet the standards required of a “deemed” university. There were charges of conflict of interest against Tandon, as he was heading a deemed university while chairing the government-appointed panel.

While the chairman of the University Grants Commission refused to comment on today’s development, HRD minister Kapil Sibal said the government would abide by the court’s verdict. “The Supreme Court is free to pass any order but we had not passed any order to stop admissions in deemed universities,” Sibal said. “We had only set up an expert committee and in-principle agree with its recommendations. Moreover, we have not issued any showcause notice to anyone.”

Deemed universities have welcomed the ruling, as they can now go ahead with their admission process that begins in May. M. S. Santhosh, joint registrar of Jain University, Bangalore, said the verdict was a clear indication that unless the authenticity of the review committee’s report was proved, no such order could be passed. “The court has understood that the matter is not easy and there is need for a debate before it takes it forward,” he said. The university was awaiting clarity on this issue and will now begin issuing applications for admissions. The institute had received its deemed university status in July 2009. It has 3,000 students across five campuses in Bangalore. Shiju Sebastian, spokesperson of Christ University, said, “We are not sure of the process by which we were blacklisted. However, our students said they have faith in our institution, therefore we have already started the admission process for some of our courses.”

The review panel set up by the ministry had initially found 88 institutes unfit for the status of a deemed university. The panel later cleared 44 of these saying they had the potential to merit the tag of a deemed university. It gave them three years to improve their functioning. The panel, however, recommended that the remaining 44 institutes be stripped of their deemed university status as they were not capable of attaining the required standards. The Centre accepted this recommendation and, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court in January 2010, said it would take away the deemed university tag from these 44 institutions. The government had then said that these universities were being run as family fiefdoms and not as academic institutions.

Around 2,00,000 students are currently enrolled with these universities. The HRD minister had given an assurance that the students would not suffer because of the government action.

Source: Business Standard, May 7, 2010

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