Jai Singh vs University Grants Commission on 24 September, 2018

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                                                                                     REPORTABLE

                                       IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                         ORIGINAL WRIT JURISDICTION

                                    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL)No. 905 OF 2018

         Jai Singh and Ors.                                                       …Petitioners

                                                        Versus


         University Grants Commission and Ors.                                    …Respondents



                                                  JUDGM ENT

         Uday Umesh Lalit, J.

1. Seven petitioners who had enrolled themselves in the years 2004 and 2005

in courses leading to award of Degree in Engineering through Open Distance

Learning by respondent No.4 – Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth (deemed

to be University), have filed the present Writ Petition seeking following reliefs:

i) Issue a writ of Mandamus or any other suitable Writ directing
the Respondents more particularly the Respondent No.2/AICTE
to issue a clarification that the degree in technical education
granted to the petitioners herein by the Respondent Universities
through Open Distance Learning Mode are valid, do not
require AICTE approval, and will be treated at par with
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by R
corresponding Degrees granted by any traditional
NATARAJAN
Date: 2018.09.24
16:13:54 IST
University/AICTE recognized Institution in the Country.

Reason:

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ii) Issue a Writ in the nature of Mandamus or any other
Writ/Direction/Order, commanding the respondents and their
men, agents and servants not to declare the technical degrees
obtained by the Writ Petitioners as well as similarly
circumstanced persons as null.

iii) Issue a Writ in the nature of Mandamus or any other
Writ/Direction/Order, declaring the degrees obtained through
distance education mode or off campus mode to be valid for all
purposes.

iv) Issue a Writ in the nature of Certiorari or any other
Writ/Direction/Order, quashing all steps taken by the
Respondents No. 1 to 7 and their men, agents and servants for
declaring any degree granted and/or obtained through distance
education mode as illegal and consequentially declare such
steps as illegal.

v) Issue a Writ in the nature of Certiorari or any other
Writ/Direction/ Order, calling upon the Respondents to certify
and produce all necessary records relating to the present case
and on perusal thereof quash and/or set aside and/or declare the
same to be illegal.

vi) Grant an ex-party, ad-interim injunction against the respondents
restraining the respondents to give effect to directions contained
in Paras 66-66.13 of (2018) 1 SCC 468 titled Orissa Lift
Irrigation Corporation Limited Vs. Rabi Shankar Patro and
Ors. till the final adjudication of the present Writ Petition.

2. The controversy in question including the issue whether a Deemed to be

University, without there being any approval from the AICTE, could start courses

leading to award of Degrees in Engineering through Open Distance Learning came

up for consideration before this Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation Corporation
3

Limited vs. Rabi Shankar 1Patro and Ors. While rejecting the submission that

the Deemed to be Universities were also entitled to similar protection as was

accorded to State or Central Universities in terms of decision of this Court in

Bharathidasan University and anr. vs. All India Council for Technical

Education and Ors.2, following directions were issued by this Court in Para 66 of

its judgment in Orissa Lift Irrigation (supra):

“66. Accordingly, we direct:

66.1. The 1994 AICTE Regulations, do apply to deemed to be
universities and the deemed to be universities in the present matter
were not justified in introducing any new courses in technical
education without the approval of AICTE.

66.2. Insofar as candidates enrolled during the academic sessions
2001-2005, in the present case the ex post facto approvals granted
by UGC and their authorities concerned are set aside.

66.3. Consequent to aforesaid Direction II, all the degrees in
Engineering awarded by deemed to be universities concerned stand
suspended.

66.4. AICTE shall devise the modalities to conduct an appropriate
test(s) as indicated in para 58 above. The option be given to the
students concerned whose degrees stand suspended by 15-1-2018 to
appear at the test(s) to be conducted in accordance with the
directions in para 58 above. Students be given not more than two
chances to clear test(s) and if they do not successfully clear the
test(s) within the stipulated time, their degrees shall stand cancelled
and all the advantages shall stand withdrawn as stated in paras 57
and 58 above. The entire expenditure for conducting the test(s) shall

1 (2018)1 SCC 468
2 (2001)8 SCC 676
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be recovered from the deemed to be universities concerned by 31-3-
2018.

66.5. 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.
Needless to say, their degrees shall stand cancelled and all
advantages/benefits shall stand withdrawn as mentioned in para 58.

66.6. If the students clear the test(s) within the stipulated time, all
the advantages/benefits shall be restored to them and their degrees
will stand revived fully.

66.7. As regards students who were admitted after the academic
sessions 2001-2005, their degrees in Engineering awarded by the
deemed to be universities concerned through distance education
mode stand recalled and be treated as cancelled. All benefits
secured by such candidates shall stand withdrawn as indicated in
para 59 above. However, the entire amount paid by such students to
the deemed to be universities concerned towards tuition fees and
other expenditure shall be returned by the deemed to be universities
concerned by 31-5-2018, as indicated in para 59.

66.8. By 31-5-2018 all the deemed to be universities concerned
shall refund the sums indicated above in para 66.7 and an
appropriate affidavit to that extent shall be filed with UGC within a
week thereafter.

66.9. We direct CBI to carry out thorough investigation into the
conduct of the officials concerned who dealt with the matters and
went about granting permissions against the policy statement,
as indicated in para 60 above and into the conduct of institutions
who abused their position to advance their commercial interest
illegally. Appropriate steps can thereafter be taken after culmination
of such investigation.

66.10. UGC shall also consider whether the deemed to be university
status enjoyed by JRN, AAI, IASE and VMRF calls for any
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withdrawal and conduct an inquiry in that behalf by 30-6-2018 as
indicated above. If the moneys, as directed above, are not refunded
to the students concerned, that factor shall be taken into account
while conducting such exercise.

66.11. We restrain all deemed to be universities to 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 statutory/regulatory authorities concerned in
respect of each of those courses and unless the off-campus
centres/study centres are individually inspected and found adequate
by the statutory authorities concerned. The approvals have to be
course specific.

66.12. UGC is further directed to take appropriate steps and
implement Section 23 of the UGC Act and restrain deemed to be
universities from using the word “university” within one month
from today.

66.13. The Union of India may constitute a three-member
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. The Committee may
examine 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 Committee may also suggest oversight mechanism to
regulate the deemed to be universities. The Union of India may
examine the said report and take such action as may be considered
appropriate within one month thereafter and file an affidavit in this
Court of the action taken on or before 31-8-2018. The matter shall
be placed for consideration of this aspect on 11-9-2018.”
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3. The present petitioners having enrolled themselves in 2004 and 2005 are

covered by directions 66.4 and 66.7. It was stated at the bar that they did appear at

the examination so conducted by the AICTE.

4. It was, however, submitted by Mr. Soli J. Sorabjee, learned senior advocate

on behalf of the petitioners, inter alia, that the case of the petitioners was covered

by one time exception granted by this Court in the case of Jawaharlal Nehru

Technological University vs. The Chairman and Managing Director,

Transmission Corporation of Telangana Ltd. Ors. 3 decided on 10th April, 2018.

Para 2 of said decision dated 10th April, 2018 had quoted the earlier order dated 16th

February, 2018 passed in said matter which brings out the factual distinction.

Relevant part of said para 2 was as under:

“On 16.02.2018 the following order was passed:

‘Permission to file the special leave petition is
granted.

Learned Attorney General has pointed out that in
view of the judgment of this Court in “Bharathidasan
University Anr. vs. All India Council
for Technical
Education Ors.”, (2001)8 SCC 676, no prior approval of
the All India Council for the Technical Education (AICTE)
is required by the petitioner – University for starting
engineering courses.

The petitioner-University is a State University and it
gave admissions in transparent manner only to the
Government Employees. There was a contact programme
and faculty was available. Practical work also held. DEC
3 Civil Appeal No. 3697-3698 of 2018
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gave ex-post facto approval. The standards have not been
compromised. ……….”

5. Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University being a State University was

completely covered by the decision of this Court in Bharathidasan (supra) and as

such reliance on the decision in Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University

(supra) case would not be of any assistance to the petitioners. Mr. Sorabjee learned

senior advocate further relied upon certain documents including ex-post facto

approvals which aspects have already been noticed and dealt with in the judgment

of this Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation (supra). We, therefore, see no reason to take

a different view in the matter. The present petition is completely covered by the

decision of this Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation (supra) and not by the decision of

this Court in Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (supra).

6. This petition, thus, is devoid of any merits and is dismissed.

…………………..……J.

(Abhay Manohar Sapre)

…………………..……J.

(Uday Umesh Lalit)
New Delhi;

September 24, 2018.

Article source: Supreme Court

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