Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Bench of Hrishikesh Roy, CJ and A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar, J. dismissed a writ appeal filed against the order rejecting to consider a students internship undertaken before the completion of his course for the purposes of awarding him a degree.

Appellant herein who was a student of the respondent University was notified that internship certificate could be issued to him only after successful completion of his Pharm. D course and the internship he had undertaken before final success in the D. Pharm course was of no consequence. He filed a writ petition assailing the said decision of University. However, the learned Single Judge held that internship undertaken by petitioner prior to passing final examination of the D. Pharm degree course could not be utilised for the purposes of reckoning the 12 months so as to make him eligible, for the award of the Degree of the Pharm. D Course. Hence, the present appeal.

The Court referred to the Kerala University of Health and Allied Sciences (KUHAS) Regulations and Syllabus for 6 years Pharm. D Course, which clearly mandated that a student has to undergo rotational internship to the satisfaction of the College and the University, for a period of twelve months only after passing the final Pharm D. examination, and only then he is eligible for the award of the Degree. It was opined that the said stipulation in the Regulations was a statutory enactment framed by the Pharmacy Council of India in the exercise of powers under Section 10 of the Pharmacy Act, 1948.

Reliance was placed on Rishabh Choudhary v. Union of India, (2017) 3 SCC 652 where it was opined that “the question before this Court is not who is to be blamed for the present state of affairs – whether it is the students or the College or the State of Chhattisgarh. The question is really whether the rule of law should prevail or not. In our opinion, the answer is unambiguously in the affirmative. The College and the State of Chhattisgarh have not adhered to the law with the result that the petitioner became a victim of circumstances giving him a cause of action to proceed against the College and the State of Chhattisgarh being a victim of their maladministration. The plight of the petitioner is unfortunate but it cannot be helped.”

Thus, it was held that there was no infirmity in the impugned Judgment. [Sarath S.M. v. Kerala University of Health and Sciences, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1032, decided on 21-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Manipur High Court – A Single Judge Bench of Kh. Nobin Singh J., disposed of a writ petition by ordering the State Government to issue a speaking order with respect to the disposal of the representation which the petitioners were asked to make.

The petitioners were lecturers in United College, Chandel. After the college was taken over by the State Government, the employees of the college were included as the employees of the state government. There were certain conditions for such inclusion. The inclusion of the petitioners as lecturers was contingent on their obtaining an M.Phil or an equivalent degree within three years, failing which the increment in their pay would have been denied.

As the petitioners had failed to obtain an equivalent degree in the stipulated time period, an order was issued by the government which sought to withhold any increment that they had received after the completion of the time period.

In 2016, the final absorption of 16 lecturers and 1 librarian was completed, and an order was issued for the disbursal of the normal/annual increment in pay of these positions. Aggrieved by this, the petitioners argued that they had submitted the relevant documents to the authorities concerned immediately after obtaining the M.Phil/ Ph.D. degree. Thus, persons located in a similar position were being accorded the benefits, and their denial of the same was a violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.

The Single Judge Bench found the writ petition to be similar to WP(C) No. 817 of 2017, which pertained to Tamenglong College, and gave the same order, asking the petitioners to submit a representation within a week of receiving a copy of the order. The State Government, after receiving the representation, was to dispose of it by issuing a speaking order. [L. Haokholet v. State of Manipur,2018 SCC OnLine Mani 126, Order dated 11-10-2018].

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a major decision in the matter relating to the students enrolled in the Distance learning Engineering Courses of certain Deemed Universities during the Academic Sessions 2001-2005, the bench of UU Lalit and AK Goel, JJ suspended the admissions and directed AICTE to conduct appropriate tests of the students in order to determine whether their degrees should be restored or not. It further added that students will not be given more than two chances to clear test/tests and if they do not successfully clear the test/tests within the stipulated time, their degrees shall stand cancelled and all the advantages shall stand withdrawn.

In the present case, it was contended before the Court that theDeemed Universities in question had set up “off campus centers” and “study centers” in violation of the Regulations framed by the UGC; that very same study center, at times was operating for more than one Deemed to be University; that these study centers completely lacked infrastructure and facilities for courses in Engineering and that the programmes through distance education mode were illegal and without approval.

Holding that the Deemed Universities were not justified in introducing any new courses in Technical Education without the approval of AICTE, the bench gave the following directions apart from the direction of conducting fresh admissions:

  • The entire expenditure for conducting the test/tests shall be recovered from the concerned Deemed Universities by 31.03.2018 and those students who do not wish to exercise the option, shall be refunded entire money deposited by them towards tuition fee and other charges within one month of the exercise of such option. The degrees of such students will stand cancelled.
  • If the students clear the test/tests within the stipulated time, all the advantages/benefits shall be restored to them and their degrees will stand revived fully.
  • As regards students who were admitted after the Academic Sessions 2001-2005, their degrees in Engineering awarded by the concerned Deemed to be Universities through distance education mode stand recalled and be treated as cancelled. However, the entire amount paid by such students to the concerned Deemed Universities towards tuition fees and other expenditure shall be returned by the concerned Deemed Universities by 31.05.2018.
  • CBI will carry out thorough investigation into the conduct of the concerned officials who dealt with the matters and went about the granting permissions against the policy statement and into the conduct of institutions who abused their position to advance their commercial interest illegally.
  • UGC will also consider whether the Deemed University status enjoyed by Universities in question calls for any withdrawal and conduct an inquiry in that behalf by 30.06.2018 as indicated above.
  • Deemed Universities will not carry on any courses in distance education mode from the Academic Session 2018- 2019 onwards unless and until it is permissible to conduct such courses in distance education mode and specific permissions are granted by the concerned statutory/regulatory authorities in respect of each of those courses and unless the off-campus Centres/Study Centres are individually inspected and found adequate by the concerned Statutory Authorities.
  • UGC will take appropriate steps and implement Section 23 of the UGC Act and restrain Deemed Universities from using the word ‘University’ within one month from today.

The Court also asked Union of India to constitute a three members Committee comprising of eminent persons who have held high positions in the field of education, investigation, administration or law at national level within one month, for examining the issues indicated above and suggest a road map for strengthening and setting up of oversight and regulatory mechanism in the relevant field of higher education and allied issues within six months. The Court said that the Committee may also suggest oversight mechanism to regulate the Deemed Universities.

Asking the Union of India to file an affidavit in this Court of the action taken on or before August 31, 2018, the Court placed  the matter on 11.09.2018. [ORISSA LIFT IRRIGATION CORP. LTD v. RABI SANKAR PATRO, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1281, decided on 03.11.2017]