Certificate Issued By Institutions Incompetent To Confer 'Degrees' Cannot Be Granted Equivalence To 'Degree': SC [Read Judgment]

Certificate Issued By Institutions Incompetent To Confer

"The concerned employer may attach due importance to such Certificates while considering the worth and ability of the concerned candidates but to say that the Certificates are equivalent to a degree and as such all the candidates who hold such Certificates are entitled to derive the advantages which a degree holder can, is completely a different issue."

The Supreme Court has observed that a certificate issued by an institution or an authority or person other than those specified in Section 22 (1) of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 cannot be equivalent to a 'degree'.

The bench comprising Justice UU Lalit and Justice Deepak Gupta noticed that right to confer degrees can be exercised only by a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act or by an institution deemed to be a University under Section 3 of the UGC Act or by an institution specially empowered by an Act of Parliament to confer or grant degrees.

The court was considering an appeal filed by Institution Of Mechanical Engineers (India), a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. The said society have been conducting bi-annual examinations and upon its completion, issuing Certificate "Associate Member of Institution of Engineers". The High Court had dismissed the writ petition filed by the society claiming the qualification from Institution of Mechanical Engineers (India), Mumbai as equivalent to degree.

The bench observed that, if the mandate of Section 22 disentitles any authority or person other than those specified in Section 22 (1) to award degrees, there is no power or authority in any one including MHRD3 to award such equivalence. The bench observed that the institution/society does not fall under any of these categories enumerated in Section 22(1) of the UGC Act and said:

In terms of Section 22(1) of the UGC Act, right to confer degrees can be exercised only by a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act or by an institution deemed to be a University under Section 3 of the UGC Act or by an institution specially empowered by an Act of Parliament to confer or grant degrees. The idea appearing in Sub-Section (1) of said Section 22 is made emphatically clear by Sub-Section (2) which stipulates: "Save as provided in sub-section (1), no person or authority shall confer, or grant, or hold himself or itself out as entitled to confer or grant, any degree". The intent of the Parliament is clear that it is only that body which is referred to in sub-Section (1) of Section 22, that is competent to confer or grant degrees. The appellant does not fall under any of these categories enumerated in Section 22(1) of the UGC Act.


If a degree can be awarded only by those institutions which satisfy the description given in sub-Section (1) of Section 22 of the UGC Act, the mandate of a Parliamentary legislation cannot be circumvented or nullified by awarding equivalence to a Certificate issued and awarded by the appellant. What is the value of that certificate will be considered by each employer as and when the occasion arises. The appellant would certainly be entitled to award Certificate of Membership to its Members. What weightage the Certificates must have is for the individual employers to consider in a given case. The concerned employer may attach due importance to such Certificates while considering the worth and ability of the concerned candidates but to say that the Certificates are equivalent to a degree and as such all the candidates who hold such Certificates are entitled to derive the advantages which a degree holder can, is completely a different issue.

The bench, upholding the High Court judgment, held that the society cannot, as a matter of right to be entitled to confer any degree nor can it claim that Certificate awarded by it must be reckoned to be equivalent to a Degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Click here to Read/Download Judgment