Economic Times | Anubhuti Vishnoi, ET Bureau | 22 December, 2015 |
NEW DELHI: Over a month after the University Grants Commission (UGC) shot off notices to ten of India’s best-known institutes asking them to ‘immediately’ shut down their allegedly ‘unauthorised’ off-campus centres, one of them has gone to court. Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani — an institute deemed to be a university — filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court last week, challenging the UGC notice dated November 9. That notice had asked BITS-Pilani to shut down its off-campus centres in Goa and Hyderabad with immediate effect. The petition comes up for hearing in the high court on Tuesday. BITS-Pilani has engaged senior advocate Harish Salve for the case, where it will seek a stay on UGC’s closure orders for its off-campus centres. Salve confirmed the development to ET. “Yes, a writ petition has been filed on behalf of BITS-Pilani on the UGC notice. It is coming up soon,” Salve told ET. Senior officials in BITS-Pilani, who did not want to identified, also confirmed the legal step. ET made several attempts to reach UGC Chairman Prof Ved Prakash, but there was no response from him. ET was the first to report about UGC’s notice to these institutes on November 15. BITS-Pilani Acting Vice-Chancellor VS Rao had earlier issued a strong statement in response to the UGC notice, terming it ‘arbitrary’. The November 19 statement by Rao clearly said the institute would initiate “necessary legal action in the matter to ensure that the issue is resolved speedily and favourably”, failing a positive response from UGC on the matter.
BITS-Pilani has argued that the 2010 deemed university guidelines quoted in the UGC notice had “no statutory force, and the establishment of our campuses pre-dates the regulations in question, which are prospective in nature, and further that the validity of these regulations is itself sub judice, and so it is beyond the legal power of UGC to issue such a notice”. On November 9, the country’s apex higher education regulator shot off notices to ten deemed to be universities, including Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies University, BITSPilani, Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Indian School of Mines-Dhanbad, Banasthali University (Rajasthan), Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Science & Technology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (UP) and the ministry of youth affairs-sponsored Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education-Gwalior. – Courtesy