Mushrooming Growth Of Substandard Institutions Cannot Be Permitted: Supreme Court [Read Judgment]
The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the decision by the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University to refuse a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to start a new course in a Hyderabad college, owing to a State directive to abstain from such permission in view of overcrowding of institutions in the area.
In doing so, the Bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Indira Banerjee highlighted the necessity to curb mushrooming growth of substandard educational institutions, observing, “Standard of education cannot be compromised and sacrificed by permitting institutions to come up in a reckless manner without there being any requirement for them at a particular place.
There is a need to strengthen the existing system of education not to make it weak by further complicating the issues by wholly unwarranted approach as the one adopted by the High Court. It cannot be left at the choice of the institution to open the course whenever or wherever they desire.”
The question before the court was whether a University is bound to give an NOC for opening an educational institution or for introducing a new course, irrespective of educational needs of the locality under its jurisdiction.
The court was hearing an appeal filed by the University, which had refused an NOC to Sangam Laxmibai Vidyapeeth, which manages Bojjam Narasimhulu Pharmacy College for Women. The NOC had been sought for starting the D.Pharma course in their college during the academic year 2018-2019, and was asked for by the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) for grant of approval.
The NOC was declined on the ground that as per the Government’s policy and perspective plan, an NOC was not to be granted for new institutions and new courses in the concerned area.
This decision was challenged before the Hyderabad High Court. In response, the Government of Telangana had filed a counter-affidavit, informing the court that the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) was requested in November, 2016 to abstain from establishing new technical institutions in the area from academic year 20172018 onwards.
It had submitted that the policy decision was based upon a detailed study of a large number of technical institutions running in the State and in particular Hyderabad, with the finding that even the available seats were lying vacant, and the addition of more seats and more colleges was bound to adversely impact the quality of education and would make them financially unviable. A Perspective Plan was therefore drawn by the Government, and was relied on by the University for denying the NOC.
The High Court had, however, set aside the University’s decision, ruling that Section 20 of the Telangana Education Act, 1982 does not confer upon the Government the power to declare such an abstention from introducing new courses. The University had now challenged this decision before the Supreme Court.
Section 20 of the Act deals with permission for the establishment of educational institutions. Section 20(1) provides that a competent authority shall conduct a survey to identify the educational needs of the locality under its jurisdiction. Section 20(3) provides that any educational agency applying for permission under section 20(2) shall, before the permission is granted, satisfy the authority concerned that there is a need for providing educational facilities to the people in the locality.
Allowing the appeal, the Apex Court opined that the High Court had erred in law in holding that it was not permissible for the State Government to frame such a policy and the University was bound to issue an NOC.
It went on to rule that the provisions of the 1982 Act are not repugnant to the AICTE Act, and also elaborated on the rationale behind Section 20, observing, “A large number of institutions have already been permitted to function in the State by the Central Bodies. It is painful to note that at several places mushroom growth of the institutions had been permitted by such bodies in an illegal manner. In case there is no check or balance and the power is exercised in an unbridled reckless manner, the sufferer is going to be the standard of education.
At the same time, there is a necessity of good institutions with new technology, but at the same time mushroom growth of the substandard institutions cannot be permitted. There has to be a requirement of educational institutions in the locality and that is one of the main considerations.”
The court, therefore, allowed the appeal, opining that the State had taken the decision objectively, on consideration of data, and hence, it could not be considered irrational or arbitrary in any manner.