The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to interfere with the exam being conducted by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) for engineering graduates who had obtained their degrees through distance education from certain deemed universities between 2001 and 2005.
In November last year, the Supreme Court had, after considering the deteriorating effect of the commercialization of education by some deemed universities on the standards of education in the country, held that the permissions granted to these universities to conduct courses leading to the award of engineering degrees were illegal.
The Court had, however, noted that the facilities at the Study Centres of these deemed Universities were never checked by the University Grants Commission or any other statutory authority. Hence, instead of directing annulment of the degrees of the students admitted during the academic sessions 2001-2005, it had granted an opportunity to such students to appear in an exam conducted by AICTE.
The Apex had then directed AICTE to conduct the exam in May or June this year and had given it a month to devise the modalities for conducting the written and practical exams for all concerned subjects.
In accordance with the order, AICTE had issued a public notice on 2 December 2017, notifying students to register themselves for the exam on or before 15 January. The notice had specifically stated that the exam would be conducted in May or June this year.
The High Court was now hearing a batch of petitions filed by engineering graduates who had obtained their degrees by way of distance mode of education from the Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, which is affiliated to a deemed University under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956.
The Petitioners had sought a refresher course for the eligible candidates, and had asserted that they had not been provided with adequate opportunity to prepare for the exam, which has been scheduled for 3 June. They had further contended that the syllabus prescribed for the exam was too vast, and that the exam should be postponed by at least three months to give them more time for the preparations.
Justice Rekha Palli, however, did not agree with these submissions, noting that they had been given about four months time already for the preparations. She further opined that it cannot interfere with the discretion conferred on AICTE unless and until there is anything on record to show that such discretion has been exercised in a perverse manner.
Thereafter, ruling that the exam did not need any interference by the Court, it observed, "In my opinion, matters such as deciding the syllabus for an examination, are purely academic matters that are best dealt with by the concerned experts. It is only when the decision of the concerned experts/authorities is found to be arbitrary or perverse, can the Court examine the same...
... there is nothing on record to show that the Respondent No. 1/AICTE, which is the expert body on technical education in India, has done anything arbitrarily or perversely in the present case. On the contrary, I find that the recommendations of the Expert Committee are fully in consonance with the directions of the Supreme Court. Even otherwise, there is nothing on record to even show that the syllabus for the examination is actually outside the scope of the syllabus that was taught to the candidates at the time they had studied for and received their degrees."