Deemed universities question probe panel’s power

August 3rd, 2010 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) A group of deemed universities Tuesday questioned in the Supreme Court the powers of a committee set up to conduct a probe against institutions facing the prospect of derecognition due to poor facilities.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) alone has the statutory power to grant the status of deemed university to an institution and revoke it and these functions of the commission cannot be outsourced to a review panel, the universities said.

“The function of the UGC could not be usurped by a committee set up outside the act (UGC Act, 1956)”, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the universities, said before an apex court bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma.

The senior counsel said the government could not appoint a committee to decide the fate of the deemed universities. He said the government’s action infringed upon the scope of the UGC Act.

He said that P.N. Tandon, who headed the review committee which gave a report suggesting derecognition of some deemed universities, was himself a head of the National Brain Research Centre that was established by the department of biotechnology in Haryana in 1997 and enjoyed the status of a deemed university.

Venugopal told the apex court that Tandon could not have gone into the fate of the similarly placed institutions.

The senior counsel even questioned the procedure and methodology adopted by the Tandon committee.

He said that the recognition granted by the UGC could not be revoked by the human resource development ministry on the recommendation of Tandon committee.

Venugopal appeared for some of the 44 institutions which are threatened with the prospects of losing their deemed university status.

Earlier, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told the court that the power to revoke the deemed university status was inherent in the power to grant such a status.

He said that there need not be any specific provision under the statute permitting the power to derecognise the deemed university status.

The solicitor general said that the fundamental question was whether a committee be appointed to go into the working of deemed universities, collect material and act on it.

He said it involved the question whether there was justified and sufficient material and whether principle of natural justice including issuance of show cause were followed before revoking the deemed university status of an institution.

Subramanium said that all these questions needed to be answered before taking on merit the question of each of the institutions facing prospect of derecognition.

The Tandon committee’s recommendation last year to derecognise the petitioner universities was accepted by the government in principal.

The court was hearing a matter related to a public interest litigation questioning the quality of educational facilities in deemed universities.

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