Supreme Court says deemed universities can’t start distant education

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A big shock came on Friday when the Supreme Court canceled engineering degrees of hundreds of students who studied education through a correspondence course from four deemed universities – JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Institute of Advanced Studies in Education in Rajasthan, Allahabad Agricultural Institute and Vinayaka Mission Research Foundation in Tamil Nadu from the year 2001 afterward. A bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit, on the other hand, granted students of the 2001-05 batch to get their degree by appearing in the examination to be conducted by AICTE, whereas they canceled the degrees of students of following batches because the deemed university had not obtained approval for the course from authorities.

The bench said, “As regards students who were admitted after the academic sessions 2001-2005, their degrees in engineering awarded by the concerned deemed to be universities through distance education mode stand recalled and be treated as canceled. All benefits secured by such candidates shall stand withdrawn. However, the entire amount paid by such students to the concerned deemed to be universities towards tuition fees and other expenditure shall be returned by the concerned deemed to be universities.” The top court also stopped deemed universities from proposing correspondence courses without getting approval from AICTE.

“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 concerned statutory/regulatory authorities in respect of each of those courses and unless the off-campus centres/study centres are individually inspected and found adequate by the concerned statutory authorities. The approvals have to be course specific,” the bench added. The court, on the other hand, also directed CBI inquiry to catch those government officials who had permitted deemed universities to provide the distance learning courses that wasn’t allowed. Adding to it, the top court asked the government to form a high-level committee to inspect the running of deemed universities.

“The Union of India may constitute a three members 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 August 31, 2018,” it added.

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