The University Grants Commission (UGC) would become a useless body if its regulations are not followed by universities, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday, voicing concern over a string of cases in which educational institutes sought exemption from the statutory body’s guidelines.
A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud made the comment while hearing an appeal filed by Lucknow-based Integral University challenging a high court order ousting its vice-chancellor because he was not a distinguished academician as one is required to be under UGC rules.
The university told the apex court that it was a minority institution and was therefore under no obligation to follow UGC standards.
The university said it had not adopted the UGC’s regulations, which an earlier SC verdict had made mandatory.
“If the regulations are not adopted, then we are not required to appoint a V-C as per the rules,” advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Integral University, told the bench.
He said a university’s needs have to conform to the regulations established while appointing teachers.
The apex court, however, disagreed with his argument and said it was willing to take a re-look at the two-judge verdict that gave this liberty to universities.
“Qualification of a head of the university has a bearing on the standards of the institution. Power to regulate standards is not just restricted to teaching staff but also its head,” Justice Chandrachud said.
What is left to the management is selection, it said, fixing Wednesday to hear the matter when a larger bench of three judges would be sitting.
An outcome in this matter is bound to have a bearing on Aligarh Muslim University’s (AMU) case which is contesting for autonomy. AMU is defending the appointment of Lt Gen Zameeruddin Shah (retd) as the V-C on the ground it was a minority institution and that it never adopted the UGC regulations.