Universities’ group wary of HRD ministry’s new bills


New Delhi: The newly-formed Indian Council of Universities (ICU) Saturday alleged that a series of legislations formulated by the human resource development (HRD) ministry are not constitutional.

Support TwoCircles

The council includes nearly 60 private, state and central universities.

“Constitution of India categorically prohibits parliament from regulating higher education while empowering states to do so,” said ICU president and vice chancellor of Sikkim Manipal University Surjit Pabla.

“Parliament can coordinate and determine the standards of higher education but cannot regulate it. Parliament is even not permitted to incorporate and wind up universities,” he said, expressing apprehensions over the series of new educational legislations being brought in by the ministry.

He was speaking to the press after ICU’s first meeting, which was inaugurated by Rajya Sabha MP and chairman of parliamentary standing committee on human resource development Oscar Fernandes.

Pabla hinted at bills on educational tribunals, prohibition of unfair practices in technical, medical educational institutions and universities, national accreditation regulatory authority for higher educational institutions and foreign educational institutions (regulation of entry and operation) and national commission for higher education and research.

“The centre cannot control universities, the sector will grow only when the regulation is eased,” Pabla said.

The members complained that all the stake-holders were not consulted before the bills were formulated.

“I was also a member of the Yash Pal committee which recommended reforms (in higher education). It called for regulation, not controlling the universities,” Pabla said.

Among the bills, the council had objections specially on the education tribunal bill and the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) Bill, 2010.

“All the new higher education bills are urgently required to be referred to the solicitor general or a committee headed by a Supreme Court judge or any other competent authority, other than those are already involved in framing these bills,” he said.

There is a need “to check their validity in view of the constitutional provisions distributing legislative powers related to higher education among the states and the union government”, he said.

According to Pabla, Fernandes suggested the council to meet the members of the parliamentary standing committee.

“It was Fernandes’ idea that we should seek an audience with the parliamentary committee, we will be meeting them soon,” he said.

“We have also written to the HRD minister and secretary seeking time to meet them,” he added.