Will frame criteria on recognition of private varsities: Centre to SC

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it has taken a decision to frame "criteria" to deal with the issue of recognition of private universities across the country after consulting with all stakeholders, including UGC.

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it has taken a decision to frame "criteria" to deal with the issue of recognition of private universities across the country after consulting with all stakeholders, including UGC.

"The Union of India has taken a decision that the proper criteria or guidelines should be laid down after consulting all the stakeholders so that the issue is settled once and for all," the counsel, appearing for Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD), told a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Vikramjit Sen.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the HRD Ministry, said that the Centre is planning to consult bodies like UGC and AICTE and the criteria can be laid down within three months.

Meanwhile, the bench asked the Centre to apprise it of steps taken on the UGC report relating to inspection carried out on 41 deemed universities.

"The Centre is obliged to take a decision," the bench said and allowed the counsel for deemed universities to respond to the report of the Centre after it is filed in the apex court registry.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for UGC, said eight deemed universities had been inspected.

Out of the eight, seven, despite certain deficiencies, can be granted recognition for one more year, he said, adding that the eighth -- Gurukul Kangra Vishwavidyalaya -- lacks teaching and infrastructural facilities.

Senior advocate P H Parekh, appearing for Gurukul Kangra Vishwavidyalaya, said that the government aid has been stopped and moreover, the institution neither has any management quota nor it levies any capitation fees.

"You cannot claim grant as a matter of right," the bench said and asked the university to respond to the Centre's report which would to be filed in the next three weeks.

Senior advocates Rajeev Dhawan and Vikas Singh, appearing for some private universities, said that they are not opposed to the statutory physical verification of the universities by the authorities but the stigma of adverse grading like 'B' and 'C' should must go.

Earlier, the court had rapped the University Grant

Commission (UGC) for going into "slumber" over conducting physical verification of infrastructure and faculty strength of deemed universities, which were black-listed by a committee appointed by the Centre.

The remarks were made when ASG Maninder Singh, appearing for UGC, was trying to explain the circumstances for the delay by submitting that there was a need to modify the apex court order as the commission cannot go the way P N Tandon Committee made categorisation of the deemed universities like "A", "B" and "C" depending on the fulfillment of criteria.

UGC had said it can only do the inspection and after seeking response of such universities, place the report with the Centre which has to express its view before the apex court.

The bench on September 26 had ruled out the suggestion of verification through photographs and videography, saying it was not an acceptable mode of determining the credentials.

It had asked UGC to complete within three months the physical verification of 41 deemed universities.

It had said that after completing the procedure of verification and rectification of deficiencies, UGC will file its report both to the Centre and the apex court.

The Supreme Court had earlier last year directed UGC to examine all the reports of the 41 deemed to-be universities and advise the central government.

These universities had gone to the Supreme Court after they were put in the 'C' category in 2009 by P N Tandon Committee, a retired professor of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

After the apex court's direction, UGC had set up a committee under its Vice Chairperson H Devaraj, which heard all the 41 deemed universities separately.

A decision to issue show cause notice was taken for seven such deficient deemed universities by the Centre as to why they should not be denotified. But later it was left to the apex court.

Earlier, 44 deemed universities were found to be unfit for the status by the Tandon committee. However, the number came down to 41 after two of them surrendered the deemed varsity tax, while the third one was converted into a centre of national importance.

UGC on October 17 had set up a five-member committee to conduct physical verification of seven universities whose deemed category status has come under question.

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