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The NATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND ACCREDITATION COUNCIL (NAAC) is an autonomous body established by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India to assess and accredit institutions of higher education in the country. Assessment and Accreditation is broadly used for understanding the “Quality Status” of an institution.

The process for assessment and accreditation broadly consists of Letter of Intent (LOI), Institutional Eligibility, Submission of Self-study Report (SSR), Peer team Visit and Decision by NAAC.

During the pendency of Viplav Sharma’s Case in Supreme Court, UGC in purported exercise of its powers under UGC Act, 1956 had notified UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010. Soon thereafter, UGC started insisting upon the Deemed Universities to follow the Regulations change their governance structure, constitution, fee structure, admission policy according to the Regulations. Several Deemed Universities were aggrieved by the Regulations and approached various High Courts in India challenging the Regulations. Upon hearing of the petitions, Madras High Court and Karnataka High Court in different petitions had granted STATUS QUO / Interim Stay on the Regulations.

However, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), which is an autonomous body of UGC then started asking the deemed universities to adhere to the 2010 Regulations, if the Deemed University/s desired to apply for accreditation / re-accreditation.  NAAC as part of its process of submission of Self Study Report, asked for a ‘Statement of Compliance’ from Deemed Universities in respect of UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 failing which institutions would not be accredited.

 This left the Deemed University is a big fix, on one hand there was stay on enforcement of the Regulations, where UGC was obviously a Respondent on another hand one of the agencies of UGC was seeking to enforce the Regulations. Several Deemed Universities obviously in due deference of and being consistent with their approach in High Court, refused to submit Statement of Compliance and could not apply for accreditation or seek re-accreditation.

 UGC in the meantime made accreditation mandatory by notifying University Grants Commission (Mandatory Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions] Regulations, 2012 on January 25, 2013. The Regulations also provides that if a Deemed University fails to apply for accreditation, then in such case Notification declaring Deemed University may also be revoked. At the same time during the pendency of petition in various High Courts, UGC was itself making impossible for Deemed Universities to follow the Assessment and Accreditation Regulations, 2012 by asking the Deemed University to follows the UGC Deemed Universities Regulations, 2010, which was stayed.

Now that Karnataka High Court has declared the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 to be unconstitutional and invalid, it would be interesting to see how does UGC and NAAC react to it? 

Ravi Bhardwaj

EduLegaL / mail@edulegal.in 

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