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It seems finally, UGC has decided to give last rites to the only surviving recommendation of Tandon Committee that “B” Category Deemed Universities should not expand. Another recommendation, i.e., de-recognition of “C” Category Deemed Universities was laid to rest by Supreme Court last year, by recognising NAAC as the criteria for gradation and rejecting the Tandon Gradation.

The Tandon Committee was set up during the pendency of Viplav Sharma’s Case in Supreme Court. The Committee without visiting the educational Institutions on basis of presentation, graded Deemed Universities in 3 Categories, A, B and C, meaning “A” Category can continue as Deemed Universities, “B” Category were given 3 years to improve but were denied expansion opportunities and “C” Category were sought to be de-recognised. A litigation followed thereafter for 8-9 years and lesser said the best.

On the recommendation of the Tandon Committee, UGC had also notified UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010, which was challenged in several High Courts and finally quashed by Karnataka High Court. UGC has now, by replacing the old Regulations, has notified UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016, addressed several concerns of the Deemed Universities.

After the initial Tandon Committee, MHRD had constituted, a Task Force in 2011, to review the compliance reports from the “B” Category Deemed Universities. This Task Force, following the same board room method, did elevate some Deemed Universities, but several continued to be in “B” Category and victim of “no-expansion” policy. The Task Force later resigned and there was absolute vacuum rendering the “B” Category Deemed Uiversity absolutely helpless with no option left other than to knock Court or be at mercy of the executive. There was no authority to listen to their claim of compliance, improvement etc.

“Expansion” in broad terms in academia would mean academic or geographical expansion. During the period of the policy, the “B” Category Deemed Universities were neither allowed to start new discipline / faculty, nor permitted to open new off campus. This was serious blow to operational autonomy of the Deemed Universities, which were continued as Deemed Universities. After the conclusion of “C” Category case in Supreme Court, even the “C” Category was not facing this embargo.

It seems taking cognizance of this vacuum, MHRD and UGC after discussion have decided to review the Policy of not allowing “B” Category Deemed University to expand or considering upgradation of “B” Category Deemed Universities.

EduLegaL View:

It is really wise step. But what needs to be seen, is the process and procedure, which UGC / MHRD will prescribe for reviewing the upgradation and the pending expansion claims, especially in light of the new Regulations of 2016. Many of the upgradation claims and expansion proposal was made during the Regulations of 2010.

I have always maintained that, as is, establishment and administration of educational institution, a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution of India, so is “expansion of an educational institution”. Therefore any restriction on the fundamental right can come only by way of law and not by notification. MHRD erred in passing notification and disallowing B Category from expansion.

Ravi Bhardwaj

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