Universities` grp wary of HRD ministry`s new bills

A newly-formed body of universities today termed as "unconstitutional" a series of bills aimed at reforming higher education in the country.

New Delhi: A newly-formed body of
universities today termed as "unconstitutional" a series of
bills aimed at reforming higher education in the country and
demanded that they be referred to a committee headed by a
Supreme Court judge.

The Indian Council of Universities, which held its
first meeting here, discussed the Educational Tribunal Bill,
2010, the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in technical
educational institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and
Universities Bill, 2010 and the Higher Education and Research
Bill, 2010 which is yet to be introduced in Parliament.

The opposition from the body comes close on the heels
of a similar resistance HRD Minister Kapil Sibal faced in the
Rajya Sabha with the Educational Tribunal Bill passed by the
Lok Sabha.

The meeting, attended by senior Congress leader and
Rajya Sabha member Oscar Fernandes as head of a parliamentary
standing committee on HRD, felt that the bills were
"unconstitutional and their constitutional validity needs to
be checked", ICU president S S Pabla, also the Vice Chancellor
of Sikkim Manipal University, told reporters here.

He claimed that Fernandes suggested that the ICU
representatives should place its views before the
parliamentary committee. The Congress leader, however, was not
present at the press briefing.

The ICU at present has 60 members, which include
chancellors, vice-chancellors of private, central, state and
deemed universities and institutions of national importance.

The body demanded that all the bills on higher
education be referred to the top law officers or a committee
be set up under a Supreme Court judge to check their validity
in view of constitutional provisions distributing the
legislative powers related to higher education among states
and the Centre.

In a statement, ICU claimed that Parliament can only
be empowered to enact laws on higher education only after the
Constitution is amended.

"Constitution of India categorically prohibits
Parliament to regulate higher education while empowering
states to do so...," the body said in the statement.

The members also alleged that they were against "over
regulation" and believed in evolving a mechanism of self
regulation on the lines of TV broadcasters.