New Delhi: In a fresh ray of hope for deemed varsities graded 'B' and 'C' categories, the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted them liberty to seek upgradation by moving the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) afresh.
A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh said it will not go into the grievances of the deemed universities with regard to their gradation and they will have to move NAAC itself afresh.
"We direct the National Assessment and Accreditation Council to dispose off the pleas of deemed universities within 12 weeks on the issue," the court said.
Institutions graded A, B and C are considered very good, good and satisfactory respectively, and are accredited as deemed universities with the UGC. Grade 'D' is an unsatisfactory rating and is not accredited.
NAAC, in pursuance of the apex court order, has assessed and accredited 38 deemed universities across the country and granted grade 'A' to 17, 'B' to 20 and grade 'C' to one.
During the hearing, the bench, on being intimated by the authorities, clarified that the D Y Patil Education Society which also runs a medical college in Pune has been graded 'A' by NAAC.
It also recorded the submission of senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for Viplav Sharma who had filed the PIL in 2006 on the issue of deemed universities, that such varsities will have to always mention that they are "deemed".
Hegde also said they cannot be allowed to run off-campus centres. The submission was objected to by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who appeared for a deemed university.
The court posted the PIL for further hearing on July 12.
Earlier, the apex court had asked NAAC to put in the public domain the gradation list of all 38 deemed universities.
NAAC has considered various aspects including self- appraisal report of these universities before putting the information regarding their gradation on the website.
Prior to this, the court had rapped the UGC over the physical verification of infrastructure and faculty strength of deemed universities which were black-listed by a government-appointed committee.
The remarks were made when the UGC counsel was trying to explain the circumstances causing the delay, by submitting that there was a need to modify the apex court order as the commission cannot go the way PN Tandon Committee categorised the deemed universities.
The UGC had said it could only conduct inspection after seeking response of such universities, place the report with the government which would then express its view before the court.
The bench had asked the UGC to comply with its earlier direction and conduct physical verification of the 41 deemed universities. It had said that after completing the procedure of verification and rectification of deficiencies, the UGC will file its report both to the Centre and the apex court.
The universities had gone to the Supreme Court after they were put in the 'C' category in 2009 by Committee headed by PN Tandon, a retired professor from prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Prior to this, 44 deemed universities were found unfit for the status by the Tandon committee. However, the number came down to 41 after two of them surrendered the deemed varsity tag, while the third one was converted into a centre of national importance.
After the Supreme Court's direction, UGC had in October last year set up a committee under its vice chairperson H Devaraj to conduct physical verification of seven universities whose deemed category status had come under question.