Bengaluru: Providing a big relief to thousands of students wishing to pursue higher education through the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), the High Court yesterday directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to grant recognition to the Open Varsity for 2017-18 within two weeks.
Observing that the UGC’s act of not responding to KSOU’s plea for grant of recognition was discriminatory in nature, the Court said that statutory institutions like the UGC should act in “a fair manner and in accordance with the object and the purpose” for which it has been created.
The Court observed that KSOU cannot be at the receiving end for the lapses on the part of the UGC. Allowing the petition filed by KSOU seeking directions to the UGC for grant of recognition for the academic year 2017-18 to offer in-house non-technical programmes, Justice B.V. Nagarathna said the Commission was constituted to ensure its actions are of high standards.
Noticing that the UGC did not communicate its decision on KSOU’s pleas, the Court also said that the UGC, despite opportunities given by the Court to consider the pleas for grant of recognition only for specific types of courses, did not apply its mind properly.
“So it must be very fair while dealing with higher education in the country. Its orders should be consistent. Therefore, the UGC must ensure its actions and orders should not be at the scrutiny by Courts or any other authority. As the action of UGC is discriminating, this Court is constrained to direct the UGC to pass positive orders towards KSOU,” the Judge said.
The Judge took a swipe at the UGC as it has passed orders without giving any reasons for denial of recognition. The UGC was found granting recognition to 106 Universities across the country even at the fag end of the academic year 2015-16. Therefore, the UGC is directed to grant recognition on par with other Universities and the UGC shall pass orders within a period of two weeks, the Judge said.
The KSOU appeared before the UGC on Nov. 21, 2017, as per the interim order of the Court and requested grant of recognition. However, the UGC passed the order dated Dec. 11, 2017, stating that the recognition cannot be granted to KSOU. This it did without assigning any reasons. Considering it as discrimination, the Judge said the order passed by the UGC cannot be sustained.
“The KSOU submitted its representation seeking recognition well in time. An opportunity was made to UGC to pass a verbal order by this Court. But that it was not complied with is a cryptic and inconsistent action towards KSOU. Therefore, the KSOU is entitled to contend that the action of UGC is discriminatory,” the Judge said.
Following no positive response from the UGC for eight months, the KSOU finally moved the High Court.
Vice-Chancellor hails order
KSOU Vice-Chancellor Prof. D. Shivalingaiah said despite submitting 30,000 pages to UGC and explaining the problems of candidates, the UGC did not consider giving recognition and treated KSOU differently. “Today’s order is a big relief for thousands of students planning to pursue higher education. The KSOU was preparing to offer non-technical courses. We were confident of getting a relief from the High Court and all courses will be offered as per law and we will uphold the dignity of the University,” he added.