Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cabinet approves unchanged Educational Tribunal Bill

The Union cabinet has approved the Educational Tribunal Bill, 2010 that aims to provide fast solutions on issues related to disputes in matters of higher education, choosing to ignore changes suggested by a Parliamentary standing committee three days ago, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

According to the draft education Bill, which suggests a two-tier structure for dispute management, while the state tribunals will adjudicate on matters concerning teachers, employees and students of institutions in the respective states, a national tribunal will deal with matters concerning regulatory bodies in higher education and issues involving institutes located in two or more states. "The Bill has got cabinet approval and we are pushing it without any change", the official said, requesting anonymity. "The Bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament before the session expires on 26 August".

The Standing Committee headed by former labour minister and Congress parliamentarian Oscar Fernandes had recommended wider consultation with the states in the drafting of the Bill and also the greater participation of people who have excelled in academics in the tribunals. "If they are not accepting any of the suggestions, then what is the need for such committees?", said N.K. Singh, member of the Standing Committee and former member of the Planning Commission. "We have given some recommendations and now it's up to the government. We have urged them to make the Bill broadbased through wider consultations and take more persons with academic excellence as members of the tribunals", Singh added. "It will not come to the committee again, but we will debate it in the house once it is placed for discussion".

The Bill was first introduced in the Parliament in May and then referred to the standing committee, which submitted its report on 20 August. While all states will have a state tribunal, it will be supervised by the national tribunal, which will adjudicate on disputes between higher educational institutions and statutory authorities, and higher educational institutions and affiliating universities in the case of Central universities. It shall have appellate jurisdiction on the orders of the state tribunals. The orders of the national tribunal can only be appealed in the Supreme Court. Both the national and state tribunals' orders will be equivalent to the decree of a civil court. People or institutions not complying with their orders will be liable to imprisonment for a maximum of three years or a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakhs (Rs. 1 million) or both.

With private educational institutes set to continue growing, the number of disputes are likely to increase. "The judicial process is quite long in India and here tribunals can solve issues faster for the betterment of both educational institutes and students", said the official cited above.

Source: Mint, August 24, 2010

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