Karnataka High Court: R Devdas, J., disposed of the petition leaving it on  National Law School of India University to approach UGC for attaining the Institutions of Eminence status.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, is before the Court, aggrieved by a public notice dated 19.07.2016 issued by respondent-UGC by which it has curtailed the physical jurisdiction of the Universities and higher educational institutions in the country in the matter of Open and Distance Learning and provided that in the matter of distance education, a University which is established or incorporated by or under a State Act shall operate only within the territorial jurisdiction allotted to it under the Act and in no case it shall operate beyond the territory of the State where it is located.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that by placing a restriction on the territorial jurisdiction, the UGC has violated the right of the petitioner under Articles 14 and 19 (1)(g) and the Right to Education under Article 21-A of the Constitution of India. It was further submitted that UGC is established under an Act of the Parliament for maintenance of standard of education in the country, but the impugned public notice, communication and Regulations, 2017 travel beyond the powers of the UGC. It is contended that such restriction is inconsistent with the object and nature of distance education.

Counsel for the respondents relied on judgment Prof. Yashpal v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2005) 5 SCC 420 submitted that establishment of a University conferring the legal status, but lacking in all the basic requirements, is clearly contrary to the constitutional scheme and is not contemplated by Article 246 of the Constitution.  It was further submitted that on establishment of the UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2017, the UGC has made provision to create a distinct category of Deemed to be Universities, called ‘Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities’ which would be regulated differently from other Deemed to be Universities so as to evolve into institutions of world class in a reasonable time period.

The Court observed that Regulations framed by UGC to determine standards of education, become part of the UGC Act and the same are applicable to both Open Universities as well as conventional formal Universities and in that respect, the alternative system envisaged under IGNOU Act, was not in substitution of the formal system. The distinction lay rather in the mode and manner of imparting education and hence, any Degree awarded in violation of Regulation-II of the UGC Regulations of 1985 by a University under Open University system, was held to be void.

The Court thus held “Now that the UGC has come up with the UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2017, making provision to create a distinct category of Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities, which would have the benefit of establishing Off-campus centres and Offshore campus, the petitioner University is free to make an application seeking declaration as ‘Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities’.”

[NLSIU v.UGC, Writ Petition No. 63550/2016, decided on 19-05-2021]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Counsel for petitioners: Mr. Adithya Sondhi and B V Nidhishree

Counsel for respondents: Mr. Showri HR and Ms. Madavi

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