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SC orders closure of 117 varsities in Chhattisgarh
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 11
In a landmark judgement aimed at streamlining higher education and save it from being turned into a commercial market venture, the Supreme Court today ordered closure of all 117 private universities in Chhattisgarh which were allowed to be opened by the previous Congress Government.

Declaring the law passed by the Ajit Jogi Government as illegal and contrary to the University Grants Commission (UGC) norms, a Bench of Chief Justice R. C. Lahoti, Mr Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Mr Justice G. P. Mathur said “these universities will seize to exist with immediate effect.”

The legislation — Chhattisgarh Niji Vishwavidyalaya Adhiniyam (University Act), 2002 — giving state government power to grant registration for a private university merely on the basis of an executive order without prior permission from authorities concerned, was challenged by none other than noted scientist, educationist and former UGC Chairman Prof Yesthpal, who said that mushrooming of universities like this would wreck havoc on the higher education system.

Allowing his public interest litigation (PIL), the court said the state government law, permitting the establishment of self- financed private universities was found to be “ultra vires” and contrary to the UGC guidelines.

Taking into account the possible effect of the order on thousands of students enrolled in these universities, the court, however, said any institution which had been opened by them and was functioning, should apply for affiliation to existing recognised universities in the state so that the career of the students could be saved.

The apex court further said if any dispute arose regarding implementation of its order, jurisdiction for its resolution would rest with the Chhattisgarh High Court.

Prominent among the 117 universities, which have been ordered to be closed by the apex court, include Amity, Rai University, ICFAI Vishwavidhyalaya, Aptech, Apple, Jaipuria, NILLM, Rajiv Gandhi Technical University, Asia Pacific Management University, Dr Zakir Hussain National University, Jawahar Lal University of Technology, Swami Vivekananda University of Sciences, Modi International University, Ansal Technology Vishwavidhyala, Mahatma Gandhi University, Chhattisgarh University and Bits university.

Prof Yashpal in his petition had said that most of these universities had set up their offices in some flats in Raipur just to get the registration certificate from the state government. Such violation of law amounted to compromising with the standard of education, he said.

The court accepted his contention that the pre-requisite norms regarding evolving syllabus based on thorough research, granting of degrees and diplomas as per the UGC guidelines and even the control of UGC, has been done away with by the state government.

However, after the defeat of the Jogi Government in the previous Assembly election, the BJP Government had already cancelled the recognition of over 50 universities and made certain changes in the law making it more stringent.

Soon after the passage of the Act, 112 universities were registered in the state in a span of one year.

Prof Yashpal in his PIL had said with his experience as a former Chairman of the UGC, the action of Chhattisgarh Government amounted to “taking the students for a ride” and allowing total commercialisation of education. 

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