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Thursday, September 19, 2013

power to fix the final qualifying criteria = whether the University Grants Commission (for short “the UGC”) has got the power to fix the final qualifying criteria, for those who have obtained the minimum marks for all the papers, before the final declaration of the results of the National Eligibility Test (for short “NET”) for the year 2012.= We are of the considered opinion that all the steps taken by the UGC were strictly in accordance with clause 7 of the Notification for the NET Examination, 2012. Prescribing the qualifying criteria as per clause 7, in our view, does not amount to a change in the rule of the game as it was already pre-meditated in the notification. We are not inclined to say that the UGC has acted arbitrarily or whimsically against the candidates. The UGC in exercise of its statutory powers and the laid down criteria in the notification for NET June, 2012, has constituted a Moderation Committee consisting of experts for finalising the qualifying criteria for lectureship eligibility and JRF. UGC acted on the basis of the recommendations made by the Expert Committee. The recommendations made by them have already been explained in the earlier part of the judgment. Reason for making such recommendations has also been highlighted in the Report. We are of the considered view that the candidates were not misled in any manner. Much emphasis has been made on the words “clearing the National Eligibility Test”. “Clearing” means clearing the final results, not merely passing in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III, which is only the initial step, not final. To clear the NET Examination, as already indicated, the candidate should satisfy the final qualifying criteria laid down by the UGC before declaration of the results. We are of the view that, in academic matters, unless there is a clear violation of statutory provisions, the Regulations or the Notification issued, the Courts shall keep their hands off since those issues fall within the domain of the experts. This Court in University of Mysore vs. C.D. Govinda Rao, AIR 1965 SC 491, Tariq Islam vs. Aligarh Muslim University (2001) 8 SCC 546 and Rajbir Singh Dalal vs. Chaudhary Devi Lal University (2008) 9 SCC 284, has taken the view that the Court shall not generally sit in appeal over the opinion expressed by expert academic bodies and normally it is wise and safe for the Courts to leave the decision of academic experts who are more familiar with the problem they face, than the Courts generally are. UGC as an expert body has been entrusted with the duty to take steps as it may think fit for the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in the University. For attaining the said standards, it is open to the UGC to lay down any “qualifying criteria”, which has a rational nexus to the object to be achieved, that is for maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research. Candidates declared eligible for lectureship may be considered for appointment as Assistant Professors in Universities and colleges and the standard of such a teaching faculty has a direct nexus with the maintenance of standards of education to be imparted to the students of the universities and colleges. UGC has only implemented the opinion of the Experts by laying down the qualifying criteria, which cannot be considered as arbitrary, illegal or discriminatory or violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. 30. The Appeals are accordingly allowed and the judgment of the High Court is set aside. The Applications for Impleadment and Intervention are dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.

                  published in   http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40796                                           
  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.  8355 OF 2013
               [Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 19933 of 2013]

University Grants Commission & Anr.          .. Appellants

                                   Versus

Neha Anil Bobde (Gadekar)               ... Respondent

                                    WITH

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.  8356     OF 2013
                [Arising out of SLP (Civil) No.24879 of 2013]

                                     AND
                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  8357    OF 2013
                [Arising out of SLP (Civil) No.25052 of 2013]


                               J U D G M E N T


K. S. Radhakrishnan, J.


1.    Leave granted.




2.    We  are,  in  these  appeals,  called  upon  to  examine
whether  the
University Grants Commission (for short “the UGC”) has got the power to  fix
the final qualifying criteria, for  those  who  have  obtained  the  minimum
marks for all the papers, before the final declaration  of  the  results  of
the National Eligibility Test (for short “NET”) for the year 2012.


3.    We have, before us, a judgment of the Division  Bench  of  the  Bombay
High Court, Bench at Nagpur, which ruled that the UGC lacked the  competence
to fix the aggregate marks as  the  final  qualifying  criteria,  after  the
candidates obtained the minimum marks, prescribed in the notification  dated
6.12.2012 before the declaration of results  of  NET  Examination,  agreeing
with a similar view expressed by a learned single Judge of the  Kerala  High
Court.


4.    Let us, at the outset, examine the  scope  of  the  University  Grants
Commission Act, 1956 (for  short  “the  UGC  Act”),  the  University  Grants
Commission  Regulations,  2010  etc.,  which  is  necessary  for  a   proper
appreciation of the various contentions raised by  the  learned  counsel  on
either side.


5.    The UGC Act, 1956 was enacted by the Parliament under  the  provisions
of Entry 66 List I of  the  Seventh  Schedule  of  the  Constitution,  which
entitles it to legislate in respect of “co-ordination and  determination  of
standards in Institutions for higher education or  research  and  scientific
and technical education”.  For the said  purpose,  the  Act  authorized  the
Central Government to  establish  a  commission,  by  name,  the  University
Grants Commission.  Chapter III  of  the  Act  deals  with  the  powers  and
functions of the Commission.   Section  12  states  that  it  shall  be  the
general  duty  of  the  Commission  to  take,  in  consultation   with   the
Universities or other bodies concerned, all such steps as it may  think  fit
for the promotion and co-ordination of  University  education  and  for  the
determination and maintenance of  standards  of  teaching,  examination  and
research in Universities, and for the purpose of  performing  its  functions
under the Act, the Commission has been bestowed with  certain  powers  under
the Act.   Clause (j) of Section 12 reads as under:
           “12(j)      perform such other functions as may be prescribed or
                    as  may  be  deemed  necessary  by  the  Commission  for
                    advancing the cause of higher education in India  or  as
                    may be incidental or conducive to the discharge  of  the
                    above functions.”




6.    Section 26(1) of the UGC Act confers powers on it to make  regulations
consistent with the Act and  the  Rules.    Clauses  (e),  (f)  and  (g)  of
Section 26 are of some relevance and are given below:
           “26.(1)     The Commission may, by notification in the  Official
                 Gazette, make regulations consistent with this Act and  the
                 rules made thereunder-
                       xxx        xxx        xxx


            (e)  defining the  qualifications  that  should  ordinarily  be
                 required of any person to  be  appointed  to  the  teaching
                 staff of the University, having regard  to  the  branch  of
                 education in which he is expected to give instruction;


            (f)  defining the minimum  standards  of  instruction  for  the
                 grant of any degree by any University;


           (g)   regulating  the  maintenance  of  standards  and  the  co-
                 ordination of work or facilities in Universities.


                 xxx        xxx         xxx”


7.    UGC, in exercise of its powers conferred under Clauses (e) and (g)  of
Section 26(1) of the UGC Act and in supersession of  the  University  Grants
Commission (Minimum Qualifications required for the Appointment  and  Career
Advancement of Teachers in Universities and Institutions affiliated  to  it)
Regulations,  2000,  issued  the  University  Grants   Commission   (Minimum
Qualifications for Appointment of  Teachers  and  other  Academic  Staff  in
Universities  and  Colleges  and  other  Measures  for  the  Maintenance  of
Standards in Higher Education)Regulations, 2010.  Regulation 2  states  that
the minimum qualifications for appointment and other service  conditions  of
University and  College  teachers,  Librarians  and  Directors  of  Physical
Education and Sports as a  measure  for  the  maintenance  of  standards  in
higher education, shall be  as  provided   in  the  Annexure  to  the  above
Regulations.  Clause 3.3.1 of the Annexure reads as follows:
      “3.3.1.      NET/SLET/SET  shall  remain   the   minimum   eligibility
              condition  for  recruitment  and  appointment  of   Assistant
              Professors in Universities /Colleges/Institutions.

            Provided however, that candidates, who are or have been  awarded
              a Ph.D  Degree  in  accordance  with  the  University  Grants
              Commission (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of Ph.D
              Degree)  Regulations,  2009,  shall  be  exempted  from   the
              requirement  of  the   minimum   eligibility   condition   of
              NET/SLET/SET for recruitment  and  appointment  of  Assistant
              Profession   or   equivalent   positions   in   Universities/
              Colleges/Institutions.”


8.    Clause 4.0.0 deals with Direct Recruitment.  Clause 4.4.0  deals  with
Assistant Professor and Clause 4.4.1 deals with  various  disciplines,  like
Art, Humanities etc and qualifications prescribed for them read as  follows:

      “4.4.1  Arts,  Humanities,  Sciences,  Social   Sciences,   Commerce,
                Education,   Languages,   Law,    Journalism    and    Mass
                Communication


         i.    Good academic record as defined by the  concerned  university
            with at least 55% marks (or an equivalent grade in a point scale
            wherever grading system is follows) at the Master’s Degree level
            in  a  relevant  subject  from  an  Indian  University,  or   an
            equivalent degree from an accredited foreign university.


        ii.     Besides fulfilling the above qualifications,  the  candidate
            must have cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET)  conducted
            by the UGC, CSIR or similar test  accredited  by  the  UGC  like
            SLET/SET.


       iii.     Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-  clauses (i)  and
            (ii) to this Clause 4.4.1, candidates, who  are,  or  have  been
            awarded a Ph.D Degree in accordance with the  University  Grants
            Commission (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award  of  Ph.D.
            Degree) Regulations, 2009 shall be exempted from the requirement
            of  the  minimum  eligibility  condition  of  NET/SLET/SET   for
            recruitment and appointment of Assistant Professor or equivalent
            positions in Universities/ Colleges/Institutions


        iv.     NET/SLET/SET shall also not be  required  for  such  Masters
            Programmes  in  disciplines  for  which  NET/SLET/SET   is   not
            conducted.”



9.    UGC, in exercise of its powers  conferred  on  it  under  the  various
provisions mentioned hereinabove, is duty  bound  to  conduct  the  NET  for
conferring eligibility for lectureship  and  for  awarding  Junior  Research
Fellowship (for short “JRF”).   UGC conducts such a test every year.

10.   UGC, in its 482nd meeting held on 22.12.2011, decided as under:
           “During  the  course  of   discussion,   the   Commission   also
      deliberated in detail the issues pertaining to objectivity in  marking
      of Paper-III, transparency,  reducing  the  inter  and  intra-examiner
      variability in marking of Paper-III,  delays  in  declaration  of  NET
      results, recommendations of the NET Moderation  Committees  to  switch
      over Paper-III from descriptive to objective type on  the  pattern  of
      CSIR- NET Examination wherein all the three papers  are  of  objective
      type.


           Having regard to the above, the Commission decided  that  Paper-
      III be converted into objective  type  from  the  ensuing  examination
      scheduled in June 2012.  Further, the Commission also recommended that
      the action may also be  initiated  for  the  development  of  question
      banks.”




11.   Notification for the NET  examination  was  accordingly  published  on
06.02.2012 for determination of the eligibility of Indian Nationals for  the
award of JRF and the eligibility for lectureship in Indian Universities  and
Colleges.


12.   UGC, under that Notification, announced that  NET  would  be  held  on
24th June, 2012 and the candidates were directed to  read  the  notification
carefully before submission of the application form.   Clause  3  refers  to
the condition of eligibility and Para 7 of the Notification deals  with  the
Scheme and date of test.  Operative portion of Para 7  is  given  below  for
easy reference :-
           “7.   SCHEME AND DATE OF TEST:


           i)    The UGC-NET will be conducted in objective mode from  June
           2012 onwards.  The Test will consist of three papers.   All  the
           three papers will consist of only objective type  questions  and
           will be held  on  24th  June,  2012  (SUNDAY)  in  two  separate
           sessions as under:


           |Session  |Paper  |Marks     |Number of Question |Duration    |
|First    |I      |100       |60 out of which 50 |1 ¼ Hours   |
|         |       |          |questions to be    |(09.30 A.M. |
|         |       |          |attempted          |to 10.45    |
|         |       |          |                   |A.M.)       |
|First    |II     |100       |50 questions are   |1 ¼ Hours   |
|         |       |          |compulsory         |(10.45 to   |
|         |       |          |                   |12.00 Noon) |
|Second   |III    |150       |75 questions all   |2 ½ Hours   |
|         |       |          |are compulsory     |(01.30 P.M. |
|         |       |          |                   |to 04.00    |
|         |       |          |                   |P.M.)       |


           Paper- I shall be of general  nature,  intended  to  assess  the
           teaching/research aptitude of the candidate.  It will  primarily
           be designed to test reasoning ability, comprehension,  divergent
           thinking and general awareness of  the  candidate.   Sixty  (60)
           multiple choice questions of two marks each will be  given,  out
           of which the candidate would be required  to  answer  any  fifty
           (50).  In the event of the candidate attempting more than  fifty
           questions, the first fifty questions attempted by the  candidate
           would be evaluated.

           Paper-II shall consist of 50 objective type compulsory questions
           based on the subject selected by the candidate.   Each  question
           will carry 2 marks.

           Paper-III  shall  consist  of  75  objective   type   compulsory
           questions from the subject  selected  by  the  candidate.   Each
           question will carry 2 marks.

           The candidate will have to mark the responses for  questions  of
           Paper-I, Paper-II and Paper-III on the Optical Mark Reader (OMR)
           sheet provided  along  with  the  Test  Booklet.   The  detailed
           instructions for filling up the OMR Sheet will be  sent  to  the
           candidate along with the Admit Card.


           The candidates are required to obtain minimum  marks  separately
           in Paper-I, Paper-II and Paper-III as given below:








           |                 |Minimum Marks (%) to be obtained          |
|CATEGORY         |PAPER-I         |PAPER-II    |PAPER-III   |
| GENERAL         |40 (40%)        |40 (40%)    |75 (50%)    |
|OBC (Non-creamy  |35 (35%)        |35 (35%)    |67.5 (45%)  |
|layer            |                |            |rounded off |
|                 |                |            |to 68       |
|PH/VH/SC/ST      |35 (35%)        |35 (35%)    |60 (40%)    |

           Only such candidates who obtain the minimum  required  marks  in
           each Paper, separately, as mentioned above, will  be  considered
           for final preparation of result.  However, the final  qualifying
           criteria for Junior Research Fellowship  (JRF)  and  Eligibility
           for Lectureship shall be decided by UGC  before  declaration  of
           result.”


13.   UGC, accordingly, conducted the examination on  24th  June,  2012.  On
17th September, 2012,  the  Moderation  Committee  constituted  by  the  UGC
consisting of the Chairman  and  Secretary,  UGC,  former  Director,  NCERT,
former Member of the UGC, Vice-Chancellor, Central  University  of  Gujarat,
Vice-Chancellor,  Tripura  University,  Vice-Chancellor,  Delhi  University,
Head, Dept. of Bio-Technology, University of Madras,  Vice-Chancellor,  Doon
University and  few  other  experts,  met  for  finalising  the  “Qualifying
Criteria” for Lectureship eligibility and took the following decision :-


           “II.  CONSIDERATION ZONE FOR UGC-NET
           The candidates are required to obtain minimum  marks  separately
           in Paper-I, Paper-II and Paper-III as given below:

                                  Table (i)
|Category        |Minimum marks (%) to be obtained           |
|                |Paper-I         |Paper-II     |Paper-III   |
|General         |40(40%)         |40(40%)      |75 (50%)    |
|OBC             |35(35%)         |35(35%)      |67.5(45%)   |
|                |                |             |rounded off |
|                |                |             |to 68)      |
|SC/ST/PWD       |35(35%)         |35(35%)      |60(40%)     |

           Only such candidates who obtain the minimum  required  marks  in
           each  Paper,  separately,  as  mentioned  above,  were   to   be
           considered for final preparation of result.  As many as 2.04,150
           candidates fell in the above-mentioned consideration zone.


           III.  QUALIFYING CRETERIA FOR LECTURESHIP ELIGIBILITY


           Taking cognizance of the consideration zone described above, the
           final qualifying criteria for Junior Research  Fellowship  (JRF)
           and Eligibility for Lectureship are  to  be  determined  by  the
           Moderation Committee for declaration of result.


           In addition to  the  consideration  zone  described  above,  the
           Committee decided to establish another  category-wise  benchmark
           for Lectureship Eligibility, i.e. aggregate  percentage  of  all
           the three papers.  Thus, the proposed  qualifying  criteria  for
           Lectureship Eligibility are as follows:

                                 Table (ii)
|Category       |Minimum Qualifying Percentage              |
|               |Paper-I   |Paper-II |Paper-III |Aggregate  |
|General        |40 %      |40 %     |50 %      |65 %       |
|OBC            |35 %      |35 %     |45 %      |60 %       |
|SC/ST/PWD      |35 %      |35 %     |40 %      |55 %       |

           As per the above criteria, it was found by the Committee that  a
           total of 43974 candidates qualify for lectureship eligibility.”


14.   The Committee recommended that the  General,  OBC  (Non-Creamy  Layer)
and  SC/ST/PWD  candidates  would  be  required  to  obtain   an   aggregate
percentage of 65%, 60% and 55% respectively in addition  to  the  paper-wise
minimum percentage presented in clause 7 of the  UGC  NET  Notification  for
June 2012, as qualifying criteria.   Based on  the  recommendations  of  the
Moderation Committee, result was declared on 18th September,  2012  and  the
category-wise qualifying criteria to the UGC-NET examination  held  on  24th
June, 2012 was as under :






      “Category-Wise Qualifying Criteria for Lectureship Eligibility in UGC-
      NET held on 24th June, 2012:

|Category          |Minimum Qualifying Percentage                |
|                  |Paper-I  |Paper-II  |Paper-III   |Aggregate  |
|General           |40 %     |40 %      |50 %        |65 %       |
|OBC (Non Creamy   |35 %     |35 %      |45 %        |60 %       |
|Layer)            |         |          |            |           |
|SC/ST/PWD         |35 %     |35 %      |40 %        |55 %       |

 15.    UGC later  received  some  representations  regarding  the  criteria
adopted for the NET-JUNE 2012 and keeping in view the same,  the  Commission
met on 20.10.2012 and set up a five member  Expert  Committee  from  amongst
the Commission Members for examining the representations/grievances  related
to NET-JUNE  2012  and  re-visit  the  results,  if  found  necessary.   The
Committee, after examining the representations, recommended as under:-
      “(i)   Grievances  related  to   insufficient   information   in   the
      advertisement: The Committee  noted  that  the  advertisement  clearly
      stated that securing minimum marks  required  in  each  paper  do  not
      amount to eligibility for the purpose of NET.  In the past, scores  in
      all the three papers were taken into account while preparing the  list
      of selected candidates for the purposes of JRF.  At the same time, the
      Committee felt that in future the announcement  should  make  it  very
      clear that the scores in all the three  papers  shall  be  taken  into
      account for NET as well as JRF and that Eligibility for NET  shall  be
      determined separately for each subject  by  taking  into  account  the
      performance of all the candidates.


      (ii) Grievances related to the uniform and high  cut-off  for  UGC-NET
      across various disciplines: The  Committee  examined  the  pattern  of
      marks secured in different subjects and the proportion  of  candidates
      who were eligible for UGC-NET based on the uniform cut-off approved by
      the Moderation Committee.  It noted that the  proportion  of  students
      who made it varied hugely across the subjects, from above  30%  to  as
      low as less than 1% in many subjects.  The Committee  felt  that  this
      method puts candidates from several subjects to disadvantage.  A  fair
      method must also take into account the performance relative  to  other
      candidates.  Accordingly, the Committee recommended  a  correction  in
      the list of candidates eligible for UGC-NET held in  June  2012.   For
      this correction, additional criteria (b below) shall be used  and  any
      candidate who meets either of the  following  two  criteria  shall  be
      eligible for UGC-NET:


     a) Those candidates who had made it to the  consideration  zone,  i.e.
        those who received a minimum of 40%, 40% & 50%  marks  in  Paper-I,
        Paper-II and Paper-III respectively for General Category; 35%,  35%
        & 45% marks in Paper-I, Paper-II and Paper-III respectively for OBC
        (Non-Creamy Layer) Category and 35%, 35% & 40%  marks  in  Paper-I,
        Paper-II and Paper-III  respectively  for  SC/ST/PWD  Category  and
        those who secured aggregate percentage (obtained by combining marks
        of Paper-I, II & III) of 65% for General Category, 60% for OBC (Non-
        Creamy Layer) and 55% for SC/ST/PWD category  candidates  (This  is
        the  same  criterion  as  described  by  the   earlier   Moderation
        Committee).
                                     OR
     b) Those candidates who figure among top 7% of all the candidates  who
        appeared in NET; this  shall  be  calculated  separately  for  each
        discipline and for each category (SC/ST/OBC (Non-Creamy Layer)/PWD.
         Accordingly a cut-off will be determined for each subject and each
        category for this purpose.  In case of tie (when  several  students
        have same identical aggregate marks) all the  candidates  appearing
        at the qualifying marks shall be included.  Candidates who  do  not
        secure minimum required score in each paper and are  therefore  not
        in the consideration zone, will not be included in this  list  even
        if they fall among the top 7% within their subject and category.


          xxx          xxx        xxx
          xxx          xxx        xxx”


16.   The Committee revisited the results  and  decided  to  qualify  a  few
additional candidates for JRF  and  eligibility  for  lectureship  both  and
eligibility for lectureship only.   Accordingly, UGC prepared  supplementary
result  qualifying  15,178  additional  candidates  which  was  declared  on
12.11.2012.  This was in addition to the candidates  declared  as  qualified
in the original result of June 2012 UGC-NET declared on 18.9.2012.
17.   Altogether 5,71,630 candidates appeared in  the  UGC-NET  Examination,
2012, out of which 2,04,150 candidates  got  the  minimum  marks  prescribed
separately in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III and fell in the  consideration
zone.  From  that,  57,550  candidates  were  declared  passed  in  the  NET
Examination for the year 2012, applying the qualifying  criteria  laid  down
by the Expert Committee of the UGC.

18.   We notice, the candidates who  have  obtained  the  minimum  marks  in
Paper I, Paper II and Paper III approached  the  High  Court  of  Bombay  at
Nagpur Bench seeking a declaration that the change  of  qualifying  criteria
reflected in the final declaration of  results  is  arbitrary,  illegal  and
without authority of law and is violative of Article 14 of the  Constitution
of India.   Further, it was also stated that the declaration  of  NET  alone
being the minimum  eligibility  standard,  UGC  has  attempted  to  fix  the
Aggregate Criteria as an additional qualifying  criteria,  which  action  of
the UGC goes beyond the scope of the notification.   Further,  it  was  also
pointed out that if at all the UGC has got the power to fix  any  additional
qualifying criteria prior to the declaration of  results,  the  same  should
have been notified at the time of taking the NET examination.   Further,  it
was also the case of the writ petitioners that  the  object  of  prescribing
NET is only to have uniform standards of lecturers to  be  appointed  across
the country and to remove  the  disparity  in  evaluation  by  awarding  the
degrees by various Universities  and  that  the  UGC  is  not  a  recruiting
authority.    UGC,  according  to  the  candidates,  is  only  expected   to
prescribe uniform standards and not to superimpose  any  further  qualifying
criteria before the declaration of the results. The High Court found  favour
with the contentions raised by the writ petitioners  and  allowed  the  writ
petition and directed the UGC to declare the results with reference  to  the
minimum marks prescribed for passing those papers. Aggrieved  by  the  same,
these appeals have been preferred by the UGC.

19.   We have heard counsel on the either side at length.   Let us,  at  the
outset, point out that  the  power  of  the  UGC  to  set  the  standard  of
qualifying criteria, as such, is not disputed but, it was pointed out,  such
qualifying criteria ought to have  been  notified  and  made  known  to  the
candidates  before  taking  the  examination  on  24th  June,  2012.   After
prescribing that the  candidates  were  required  to  obtain  minimum  marks
separately in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III, there is no justification  in
superimposing an additional qualifying criteria before  the  declaration  of
the results.

20.   We have elaborately referred to  various  statutory  provisions  which
would clearly indicate that the UGC as an expert body has been entrusted  by
UGC Act the general duty to take such steps as it  may  think  fit  for  the
determination and maintenance of  standards  of  teaching,  examination  and
research in Universities.  It is also duty bound to perform  such  functions
as may be prescribed or as may be deemed necessary  by  the  Commission  for
advancing the cause of higher education in India.  The UGC has also got  the
power to define the qualification that should  ordinarily  be  required  for
any person to be appointed to the teaching staff of the  University  and  to
regulate  the  maintenance  of  standards  and  coordination  of  work   and
faculties in the Universities.

21.   This Court in University of Delhi v. Raj Singh 1994 Supp. (3) SCC  516
dealt with the powers of UGC elaborately and held as follows:
           “20. The ambit of Entry 66 has already been the subject  of  the
      decisions of this Court in the cases  of  the  Gujarat  University  v.
      Krishna Ranganath Mudholkar 1963  Supp  1  SCR  112  and  the  Osmania
      University Teachers’ Association v. State of Andhra Pradesh  (1987)  4
      SCC 671. The UGC Act is enacted under the provisions of  Entry  66  to
      carry out the objective thereof. Its short title, in fact,  reproduces
      the words of Entry 66. The principal function of the UGC is set out in
      the opening words of Section 12, thus:


                 “It shall be the general duty of the Commission to  take  …
           all such steps as  it  may  think  fit  for  the  promotion  and
           coordination of University education and for  the  determination
           and  maintenance  of  standards  of  teaching,  examination  and
           research in Universities ….”


      It is very important to note that a duty is cast upon  the  Commission
      to take “all such steps as it may think fit …  for  the  determination
      and maintenance of standards of teaching”. These are very wide-ranging
      powers. Such powers, in  our  view,  would  comprehend  the  power  to
      require those who possess the educational qualifications required  for
      holding the post of lecturer in Universities and  colleges  to  appear
      for a written test, the passing of which  would  establish  that  they
      possess the minimal proficiency for holding such post.  The  need  for
      such test is demonstrated  by  the  reports  of  the  commissions  and
      committees of educationists referred to above which take note  of  the
      disparities in the standards of education in the various  Universities
      in the country. It is patent that the holder of a postgraduate  degree
      from one University is not necessarily of the  same  standard  as  the
      holder of the same postgraduate degree from another  University.  That
      is the rationale of the test prescribed by the  said  Regulations.  It
      falls squarely within the scope of Entry 66 and the UGC  Act  inasmuch
      as it is intended to co-ordinate standards and the UGC is  armed  with
      the power to take all such steps as it may think fit in  this  behalf.
      For performing its general duty and its other functions under the  UGC
      Act, the UGC is invested with the  powers  specified  in  the  various
      clauses of Section 12. These include  the  power  to  recommend  to  a
      University the measures necessary for the  improvement  of  University
      education and to advise in respect of the action to be taken  for  the
      purpose of implementing such recommendation [clause (d)]. The  UGC  is
      also invested with the power to perform such other functions as may be
      prescribed or as may be deemed necessary by it for advancing the cause
      of higher education in India or as may be incidental or  conducive  to
      the discharge of such functions [clause (j)]…………”


22.   The judgment referred  to  above  was  later  followed  in  University
Grants Commission v.  Sadhana  Chaudhary  and  Others  (1996)  10  SCC  536,
wherein this Court dealt with the recommendation of the  Malhotra  Committee
and the powers of UGC.   Reference may also be made to another  judgment  of
this Court in Annamalai University represented by Registrar v. Secretary  to
Government, Information and Tourism Department and Others (2009) 4 SCC  590,
wherein this Court reiterated that the UCG Act was enacted for  effectuating
co-ordination and determination of standards in universities and colleges.


23.   UGC, in exercise of its powers conferred under clauses (e) and (g)  of
Section 26(1) of the UGC Act,  issued  the  UGC  (Minimum  Qualification  of
Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities  and  Colleges  and  other
measures for Maintenance of  Standards  of  Higher  Education)  Regulations,
2010.   Clause 3.3.1 of the Regulation specifically  states  the  NET  shall
remain  the  minimum  eligibility  condition   for   recruitment   and   for
appointment       of        Assistant        Professors        in        the
Universities/Colleges/Institutions.  Clause  4.4.1  stipulates  that  before
fulfilling the other prescribed qualifications,  the  candidates  must  have
cleared the National Eligibility Test conducted by the UGC.  Therefore,  the
power of the UGC to prescribe, as it thinks  fit¸  the  qualifying  criteria
for maintenance  of  standards  of  teaching,  examination  etc.  cannot  be
disputed.   It is in exercise of the above statutory  powers,  the  UGC  has
issued the notification for holding the NET on 24th June, 2012.   Para 7  of
the Notification deals with the Scheme of the Act  which  clearly  indicates
that the candidates are required  to  obtain  minimum  marks  separately  in
Paper I, Paper II and Paper III.  It also clearly indicates that  only  such
candidates  who  obtain  minimum  required  marks  in  each  paper  will  be
considered  for  final  preparation  of  results.    The  final   qualifying
criteria for JRF and eligibility for lectureship shall  be  decided  by  UGC
before declaration  of  result.   Above  clause  deals  with  the  following
requirements to be followed before the final declaration of the results:-
     i)     Candidates to obtain minimum marks separately in Paper I, Paper
        II and Paper III;
    ii)     Candidates who have satisfied the above criteria only would  be
        subjected to a qualifying criteria before the final preparation  of
        result; (Consideration Zone)
   iii) UGC has to fix the final qualifying criteria before the declaration
        of results.


24.   Candidates are seeking final declaration of results  the  moment  they
have obtained the minimum marks separately in Paper I, Paper  II  and  Paper
III, ignoring the other  two  steps,  referred  to  hereinbefore,  and  also
forgetting the fact that only those who obtain the  minimum  required  marks
alone will fall in the consideration zone.  All  these  steps,  as  we  have
referred to above, have been clearly stipulated in the notification for  NET
Examination, 2012.


25.    We  find,  2,04,150  candidates  have  obtained  the  minimum   marks
separately in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III.   All those  candidates  were
subjected to a final qualifying criteria fixed by the Committee  constituted
by the UGC, since they fell within the Consideration  Zone.    Applying  the
final qualifying criteria, the Committee made the following  recommendations
:-
     i)     The Committee recommended that a total of 43,974 candidates may
         be declared qualified  for  lectureship  eligibility  as  per  the
        qualifying criteria given below :-




        |Category          |Minimum Qualifying Percentage            |
|                  |Paper-I|Paper-II |Paper-III  |Aggregate  |
|General           |40 %   |40 %     |50 %       |65 %       |
|OBC (Non Creamy   |35 %   |35 %     |45 %       |60 %       |
|Layer)            |       |         |           |           |
|SC/ST/PWD         |35 %   |35 %     |40 %       |55 %       |


    ii)     The Committee recommended that the NET Bureau may finalize  the
        JRF awardees as per the  criteria  mentioned  above  out  of  those
        candidates who had opted for JRF and have qualified for lectureship
        eligibility.


   iii) The Committee authorized the Chairman, University Grants Commission
        to declare the result for eligibility for  lectureship  and  Junior
        Research Fellowship as recommended by the Moderation Committee.


   While  concluding  the  deliberations,  the   Committee   expressed   the
   appreciation for the painstaking effort of the NET  Bureau  in  analyzing
   the results and presenting its findings.



26.   We notice, based on the recommendations of the Expert  Committee,  the
final results were declared and 43,974 candidates  were  declared  qualified
for lectureship eligibility as per  the  qualifying  criteria.   As  already
indicated, some more relaxation was also granted in favour of those  persons
who got the minimum qualifying marks since those candidates figured  amongst
the top 7% of all the candidates who appeared in NET, which was in  addition
to the candidates declared as qualified in the original result  declared  on
18.9.2012.   15,178  candidates  were   benefitted   by   that   relaxation.
Consequently, as already stated, a total of 57,550 candidates were  declared
passed in the NET Exam. 2012.

27.   We are of the considered opinion that all the steps taken by  the  UGC
were strictly in accordance with clause 7 of the Notification  for  the  NET
Examination, 2012.   Prescribing the qualifying criteria as  per  clause  7,
in our view, does not amount to a change in the rule of the game as  it  was
already pre-meditated in the notification.  We are not inclined to say  that
the UGC has acted arbitrarily or whimsically against the  candidates.    The
UGC in exercise of its statutory powers and the laid down  criteria  in  the
notification for NET June, 2012,  has  constituted  a  Moderation  Committee
consisting  of  experts  for  finalising   the   qualifying   criteria   for
lectureship  eligibility  and  JRF.    UGC  acted  on  the  basis   of   the
recommendations made by the Expert Committee.  The recommendations  made  by
them have already been explained  in  the  earlier  part  of  the  judgment.
Reason for making such recommendations has  also  been  highlighted  in  the
Report.

28.   We are of the considered view that the candidates were not  misled  in
any manner.  Much  emphasis  has  been  made  on  the  words  “clearing  the
National Eligibility Test”.  “Clearing” means clearing  the  final  results,
not merely passing in Paper I, Paper II and Paper III,  which  is  only  the
initial  step,  not  final.   To  clear  the  NET  Examination,  as  already
indicated, the candidate should satisfy the final qualifying  criteria  laid
down by the UGC before declaration of the results.

29.   We are of the view that, in academic matters, unless there is a  clear
violation of statutory  provisions,  the  Regulations  or  the  Notification
issued, the Courts shall keep  their  hands  off  since  those  issues  fall
within the domain of the experts.   This Court in University of  Mysore  vs.
C.D.  Govinda  Rao,  AIR  1965  SC  491,  Tariq  Islam  vs.  Aligarh  Muslim
University (2001) 8 SCC 546 and Rajbir Singh Dalal vs.  Chaudhary  Devi  Lal
University  (2008) 9 SCC 284, has taken the view that the  Court  shall  not
generally sit in appeal  over  the  opinion  expressed  by  expert  academic
bodies and normally it is  wise  and  safe  for  the  Courts  to  leave  the
decision of academic experts who are more familiar  with  the  problem  they
face, than the Courts generally  are.   UGC  as  an  expert  body  has  been
entrusted with the  duty  to  take  steps  as  it  may  think  fit  for  the
determination and maintenance of  standards  of  teaching,  examination  and
research in the University.   For attaining the said standards, it  is  open
to the UGC to lay down any  “qualifying  criteria”,  which  has  a  rational
nexus to the object to be achieved, that is for maintenance of standards  of
teaching,  examination  and  research.   Candidates  declared  eligible  for
lectureship may be considered for appointment  as  Assistant  Professors  in
Universities and colleges and the standard of such a teaching faculty has  a
direct nexus with the maintenance of standards of education to  be  imparted
to the students of the universities and colleges.  UGC has only  implemented
the opinion of the Experts by laying down  the  qualifying  criteria,  which
cannot be considered as arbitrary, illegal or  discriminatory  or  violative
of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

30.   The Appeals are accordingly allowed  and  the  judgment  of  the  High
Court is set aside.  The Applications for Impleadment and  Intervention  are
dismissed.  There shall be no order as to costs.

                                                            ..…………………………….J.
                                 (K.S. Radhakrishnan)





                                                              …….………………………J.
                                   (A.K. Sikri)
New Delhi,
September 19, 2013.

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