EC Member Abha Dev Habib urges UGC’s intervention to stop FYUP

Hon’ble Supreme Court’s view on the role of the UGC and the mandate relating to co-ordination and maintenance of standards

Paragraphs numbered 17 and 30 from the Supreme Court judgment on 11 February 2005 in the Writ Petition (civil) 19 of 2004 (Prof. Yashpal & Anr. vs State of Chhattisgarh & Ors. taken a view of the mandate relating to the co-ordination and maintenance of standards and the role of the UGC.

17. The same question was also examined in considerable detail in State of Tamil Nadu & Anr. v. Adhiyaman Educational and Research Institute 1995 (4) SCC 104 and the conclusions drawn were summarized in para 41 of the reports and sub-paras (i) and (ii) thereof are being reproduced below : (i) The expression ’coordination’ used in Entry 66 of the Union List of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution does not merely mean evaluation. It means harmonisation with a view to forge a uniform pattern for a concerted action according to a certain design, scheme or plan of development. It, therefore, includes action not only for removal of disparities in standards but also for preventing the occurrence of such disparities. It would, therefore, also include power to do all things which are necessary to prevent what would make ’coordination’ either impossible or difficult. This power is absolute and unconditional and in the absence of the valid compelling reasons, it must be given its full effect according to its plain and express intention.

30. Entry 66 which deals with co-ordination and determination of standard in institutions for higher education or research and scientific and technical institutions is in Union List and the Parliament alone has the legislative competence to legislate on the said topic. The University Grants Commission Act has been made with reference to Entry 66 (See Prem Chand Jain v. R.K. Chhabra 1984 (2) SCR 883 and Osmania University Teachers Association v. State of Andhra Pradesh 1987 (4) SCC 671). The Act has been enacted to ensure that there is co-ordination and determination of standards in Universities, which are institutions of higher learning, by a body created by the Central Government. It is the duty and responsibility of the University Grants Commission, which is established by Section 4 of the UGC Act, to determine and coordinate the standard of teaching curriculum and also level of examination in various Universities in the country. In order to achieve the aforesaid objectives, the role of UGC comes at the threshold. The course of study, its nature and volume, has to be ascertained and determined before the commencement of academic session. Proper standard of teaching cannot be achieved unless there are adequate infrastructural facilities in the campus like classrooms, libraries, laboratories, well-equipped teaching staff of requisite caliber and a proper student-teacher ratio. For this purpose, the Central Government has made a number of Rules in exercise of powers conferred by Section 25 of UGC Act and the Commission has also made Regulations in exercise of power conferred by Section 26 of the UGC Act and to mention a few, UGC Inspection of Universities Rules, 1960, UGC Regulations 1985 regarding the Minimum Standards of Instructions for the Grant of the First Degree, UGC Regulations, 1991 regarding Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers in Universities and Colleges, etc. The UGC with the approval of the Central Government and exercising power under Section 22(3) of the UGC Act has issued a schedule of degrees which may be awarded by the Universities. The impugned Act which enables a proposal on paper only to be notified as a University and thereby conferring the power upon such University under Section 22 of the UGC Act to confer degrees has the effect of completely stultifying the functioning of the University Grants Commission in so far as these Universities are concerned. Such incorporation of a University makes it impossible for the UGC to perform its duties and responsibilities of ensuring co-ordination and determination of standards. In absence of any campus and other infrastructural facilities, the UGC cannot take any measures whatsoever to ensure a proper syllabus, level of teaching, standard of examination and evaluation of academic achievement of the students or even to ensure that the students have undergone the course of study for the prescribed period before the degree is awarded to them.

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