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Universities Can Stipulate Enhanced Norms And Standards For Granting Affiliation Than Those Prescribed By AICTE: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
10 Dec 2020 1:50 PM GMT
Universities Can Stipulate Enhanced Norms And Standards For Granting Affiliation Than Those Prescribed By AICTE: Supreme Court
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"The power of the universities to prescribe enhanced norms and standards, cannot be doubted."

The Supreme Court observed that the Universities, though cannot dilute the standards prescribed by AICTE, have the power to stipulate enhanced norms and standards. The CJI SA Bobde led bench observed thus while allowing APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University's appeal against the Kerala High Court judgment which directed it re-consider the application for affiliation of a ...

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The Supreme Court observed that the Universities, though cannot dilute the standards prescribed by AICTE, have the power to stipulate enhanced norms and standards. 

The CJI SA Bobde led bench observed thus while allowing APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University's appeal against the Kerala High Court judgment which directed it re-consider the application for affiliation of a new B.Tech course, submitted by a college.

In the said judgment, the High Court held that the University did not have the power to incorporate any additional conditions for affiliation and that the AICTE Regulations and the Approval Process Handbook constitute a complete code. The High court held that (i) that the Syndicate did not have the power to take the impugned decisions, as there was no University Statute in force on that date and that in the absence of the Statute, the Vice Chancellor alone had the power to make any recommendation to the Board of Governors in the matter of affiliation; and (ii) that the University cannot go beyond AICTE Regulations.

In appeal, the bench also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian observed that though it is not open to the Universities to dilute the norms and standards prescribed by AICTE, it is always open to the Universities to prescribe enhanced norms. The Court noted that in Bharathidasan University and Another vs. All India Council for Technical Education and Others , it was observed that AICTE is not a super power with a devastating role undermining the status, authority and autonomous functioning of the Universities in areas and spheres assigned to them. The bench taking note of the counter affidavit filed by AICTE in this case, observed:

"Though AICTE has reserved to itself the power to conduct inspections and take penal action against colleges for false declarations, such penal action does not mean anything and does not serve any purpose for the students who get admitted to colleges which have necessary infrastructure only on paper and not on site. The Regulations of the AICTE are silent as to how the students will get compensated, when penal action is taken against colleges which host false information online in their applications to AICTE. Ultimately, it is the universities which are obliged to issue degrees and whose reputation is inextricably intertwined with the fate and performance of the students, that may have to face the music and hence their role cannot be belittled. Today, even the universities are being ranked according to the quality of standards maintained by them. The Ministry of Human Resources Development of the Government of India launched an initiative in September 2015, known as National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), for ranking institutions including universities in India. The ranking is based on certain parameters such as: (i) Teaching, Learning and Resources; (ii) 43 Research and Professional Practice; (iii) Graduation Outcomes; (iv) Outreach and Inclusivity; and (v) Peer Perception. No State run university can afford to have a laid­back attitude today, when their own performance is being measured by international standards. Therefore, the power of the universities to prescribe enhanced norms and standards, cannot be doubted."

The High Court had relied on the Supreme Court judgment in Rungta Engineering College, Bhilai and Another vs .Chattisgarh Swami Vivekanand Technical University. "Rungta Engineering College did not take note of the judgments in Bharathidasan University, etc. Therefore, it cannot be said to reflect the correct position in law". the bench observed.

On the other issue also, the bench observed that High Court erred in holding that the resolutions passed by the Syndicate prescribing norms and standards for the grant of affiliation for additional courses, are ultra vires the Act.

CASE: APJ ABDUL KALAM TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY vs. JAI BHARATH COLLEGE OF MANAGEMENT AND ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY [CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4016 OF 2020] 
CORAM: CJI SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian 
COUNSEL: Sr. Adv Chander Uday Singh, for Petitioner, Adv S. Krishnamoorthy, Sr. Adv C. Arayama Sundaram, Sr. Adv Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Sr. Adv. P.S. Narasimha

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