The Delhi High Court, on Friday, rapped the University Grants Commission (UGC) for denying the National Eligibility Test (NET) certificate to a candidate who held a higher qualification degree than what was prescribed by it.
"If a master's degree is the minimum eligibility qualification for the NET, then a candidate with a higher qualification degree would also be eligible for the NET," Justice Rekha Palli observed.
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by one Ms. Diksha Lamba challenging a letter issued by the UGC canceling her results of the National Eligibility Test held in December 2012.
In canceling her result after three years, the UGC had noted that she did not fulfill the eligibility criteria, opining that her Master’s degree from the University of Leeds was not equivalent to a corresponding degree from a recognized Indian university as per the rules of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU). Earlier, the AIU had denied her an equivalence certificate noting that her course at Leeds University was only for a period of one year, as compared to the two-year duration of a corresponding degree from a recognized Indian university.
The issue was raised despite the fact that Ms. Lamba had, in the meantime, successfully completed her M.Phil degree, which was a higher qualification than what was required for NET.
Considering the rival submissions, the Court noted that M.Phil degree is considered as a pre-doctoral level degree, for which the minimum qualification is a Master's degree. In the same vein, it noted that since a master's degree is an essential qualification to obtain an M.Phil degree, it must follow that an M.Phil degree is a higher qualification than a master's degree.
It therefore concluded, "Therefore, the Petitioner's M.Phil degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University, which is admittedly a duly recognized Indian university, is a higher qualification than a master's degree and cannot be ignored...
...Therefore, in my considered opinion, the Petitioner's M.Phil degree, which is a higher qualification than a master's degree, made her eligible for the NET."
The Court then opined that Ms. Lamba was being "arbitrarily denied the fruits of the NET" and directed UGC to issue the NET certificate to her, disposing of the petition.