Delhi High Court has issued notice in a plea challenging the validity of the UGC (Conferment of Autonomous Status upon Colleges and Measures for Maintenance of Standards in Autonomous Colleges) Regulations, 2018, for being ultra vires of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan has issued notice to the Union of India.
Filed by Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), the petition claims that the UGC (Conferment of Autonomous Status upon Colleges and Measures for Maintenance of Standards in Autonomous Colleges) Regulations, 2018 (hereinafter referred to as 2018 Regulations) go against the objectives of the parent Act, which is the UGC Act.
The Petitioner has called the said Regulations 'unlawful' and 'arbitrary' by arguing that as per the Act of 1956, UGC only empowered to make rules and regulations with respect to governance of Universities, and not individual colleges and institutes.
The said Regulations, it is argued, will reduce the role of the Universities to a mere 'paper approver' in the process of supervising the affiliated institutions.
While arguing that the 2018 Regulations go beyond the scope and objectives of the UGC Act, the Petitioner submits that the UGC has not provided any reason whatsoever to create a separate regulation for autonomy whilst there is an existing substantive provision in the Parent Act for granting autonomy to colleges/ institutions by UGC, i.e. Section 3 of the Parent Act.
The petition states that:
'Impugned Regulations strip the Petitioner University of all its powers and functions with respect to administration of colleges/institutions affiliated to it and render it to be a mere rubber stamp as the grant of autonomous status would render several provisions of GGSIPU Act otiose and meaningless.'
It is further argued that the said Regulations have been promulgated by misinterpreting the residual powers enshrined under section 12(j) of the parent Act. It is contended:
'UGC has also relied upon Section 12(j) of the Parent Act for the promulgation of the Impugned Regulations, which is merely a residuary provision and reliance by UGC on the same to promulgate the UGC Regulations is unfounded, as it is trite that the usage of residuary powers must be limited to the issues, topics and fields covered in an Act alone and not be used to foray into a completely new field of regulation and oversight.'