Supreme Court: Granting a one-time relaxation in favour of those candidates who were enrolled during the academic years 2001-2005 and who, in terms of the judgment passed on 03.11.2017, are eligible to appear at the test to be conducted by AICTE, the bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit, JJ directed:
“All such candidates, who wish to appear at the forthcoming test to, be conducted by AICTE in May-June 2018 and who exercise option to appear at the test in terms of the judgment, can retain the degrees in question and all the advantages flowing therefrom till one month after the declaration of the result of such test or till 31.07.2018 whichever is earlier.”
In the present matter a clarification was sought on the judgment dated 03.11.2017, wherein the bench had suspended the admissions of the students enrolled in the Distance Learning Engineering Courses of certain Deemed Universities during the Academic Sessions 2001-2005 and directed AICTE to conduct appropriate tests of the students in order to determine whether their degrees should be restored or not.
Senior advocate V. Giri, brought to the Court’s notice that the controversy in the said judgment was principally concerning the cases of in-service candidates who were initially employed as diploma holders but while in service had been awarded degrees in Engineering by Deemed to be Universities in question through distance learning mode; and that this Court was not called upon to consider cases where such degrees themselves became the foundation for a subsequent employment or selection and further advancement in career. He, hence, submitted:
“an exception be made in favour of such candidates whose qualifications were independently considered by an authority such as UPSC and were selected through competitive selection process and in any case, even if the Judgment were to apply to such candidates, the suspension of their degrees and all advantages flowing therefrom till they pass the test as indicated in the judgment ought not to be insisted upon.”
Refusing to grant such exception, the Court said:
“The infirmity in their degrees is basic and fundamental and cannot be wished away.”
However, at the same time, the Court found some force in the submission that if the suspension of their degrees and all advantages were to apply as indicated in the judgment, the concerned candidates may lose their jobs and even if they were to successfully pass the test, restoration of their jobs and present position would pose some difficulty and hence, gave the aforementioned clarification.
The Court, hence, clarified that this facility is given as one-time exception so that those who have the ability and can pass the test in the first attempt itself, should not be put to inconvenience. If the candidates pass in such first attempt, they would be entitled to retain all the advantages. But if they fail or choose not to appear, the directions in the judgment shall apply, in that the degrees and all advantages shall stand suspended and withdrawn. It was further clarified:
“no more such chances or exceptions will be given or made. They will undoubtedly be entitled to appear on the second occasion in terms of the judgment but this exception shall not apply for such second attempt.”
The Court, hence, directed AICTE to conduct the test in May-June 2018 and declare the result well in time. AICTE shall however extend the time to exercise the option to appear at the test suitably. [Orissa Lift Irrigation Corp. Ltd. v. Rabi Sankar Patro, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 31, decided 22.01.2018]