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High Court dismisses PILs challenging amendments to Varsities Act

The petitions alleged that the amendments to the Act notified on November 9, 2020, violated the regulations of the UGC and encroached upon the autonomy of the universities.

Published: 25th January 2022 07:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th January 2022 07:30 AM   |  A+A-

Odisha High Court

Orissa High Court (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Monday dismissed three PILs challenging the validity of the Orissa Universities (Amendment) Act, 2020, which brought all varsities in the State under one law.

The petitions alleged that the amendments to the Act notified on November 9, 2020 violated the regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC). The amendments encroached upon the autonomy of the universities as recruitment of teaching staff like professors, associate professors and assistant professors would be done now by the Odisha Public Service Commission, the petitions alleged.

The petitions were filed by professor of Utkal University Kunja Bihari Panda, retired professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Ajit Kumar Mohanty and Biswabasu Dash representing the All India Save Education Committee. 

While dismissing the petitions, a division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice AK Mohapatra said the UGC Regulations, 2018 are not binding on the State government and they can at best be directory as far as the Odisha State universities are concerned”.

The bench said the contention of the State government that amendment to the OU Act does not dilute the minimum standards set out in the UGC Regulations, 2018 for the appointment of a VC, merits acceptance.  The change brought about is that the number of academicians in the committee has been reduced from three to two and the third is a retired bureaucrat. However, the decision of the committee has been mandated to be unanimous, the bench observed.

It further observed, “This Court is accordingly inclined to accept the submission of the State government in the present case that while the UGC Regulation 2018 lays down the minimum qualifications for the teaching posts, the service conditions and the method/process of selection cannot be said to be covered thereunder.” 

HC dismisses PILs on OU Act

“The criticism that the Syndicate is now being completely dominated by the State Government is also not valid, since Section 6 (1) of the OUA Act, as amended, provides that all recommendations of such committee shall be unanimous”, the bench observed.

The Court judgment assumes significance as the amendments to the OU Act had stirred a controversy with opposition from different quarters, especially educationists and the opposition parties demanding complete withdrawal of the new law.



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