Sikkim HC or­der brings cheer to stu­dents

NEXT STEP Should the Univer­sity Grants Com­mis­sion ac­knowl­edge the Sikkim High Court judg­ment ‘pro­tect­ing’ the de­grees of lakhs of stu­dents of Sikkim Ma­ni­pal Univer­sity?

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Jee­van Prakash Sharma

Pre­cisely a month ago, on June 29, 2015, a Sikkim High Court or­der brought cheer to lakhs of stu­dents who had com­pleted or were pur­su­ing dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes (DEP) from Sikkim Ma­ni­pal Univer­sity’s (SMU) study cen­tres across the coun­try and abroad.

On the va­lid­ity of de­grees, the court said that stu­dents whose de­grees will be ‘pro­tected’ in­clude those who had com­pleted their course be­fore 2011-12; oth­ers who had started their pro­gramme prior to 2011-12 and those ad­mit­ted for the pro­grammes any day af­ter Fe­bru­ary 22, 2013, till June 26, 2015.

De­spite court or­ders, how­ever, a cir­cu­lar from the Univer­sity Grants Com­mis­sion (UGC) was awaited on the mat­ter, caus­ing much con­ster­na­tion among stu­dents who had passed out of SMU’s study cen­tres in states other than Sikkim at dif­fer­ent points of time from 2003 on­wards. Es­pe­cially wor­ried are those who took ad­mis­sion in the off-cam­pus and off­shore study cen­tres of SMU af­ter 2007 be­cause of am­bi­gu­ity in UGC rules re­lated to dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion in off-cam­pus and off­shore study cen­tres of state univer­si­ties.

Be­fore giv­ing grant­ing re­lief to the stu­dents, June 26, 2015, the court had re­jected SMU’s plea to be al­lowed to of­fer de­gree pro- grammes in its off-cam­pus and off­shore study cen­tres.

Ritesh Agrawal, a Supreme Court lawyer, who con­tested the stu­dents’ case in the stu­dents in the Sikkim High Court, said “From June 26, 2015, Sikkim Ma­ni­pal Univer­sity can­not of­fer any course from its study cen­tres be­yond the bound­ary of its own state. The High Court has up­held the ar­gu­ments of the Univer­sity Grants Com­mis­sion that it has su­per­ven­ing (ad­di­tional) in­flu­ence over all the other leg­is­la­tions on the sub­ject of ed­u­ca­tion for main­te­nance of min­i­mum stan­dards in the coun­try. So even if its act al­lows it to go be­yond state bound­aries, a var­sity can­not do so. How­ever, as the High Court has pro­tected the in­ter­ests of the stu­dents, the UGC should is­sue a cir­cu­lar in ac­cor­dance with the judg­ment to clear any un­cer­tainty about their de­grees. Many gov­ern­ment col­leges are deny­ing ad­mis­sion to stu­dents in post-grad­u­a­tion cour­ses. Stu­dents have been com­plain­ing about dis­crim­i­na­tion in jobs due to am­bi­gu­ity on the sta­tus of their de­grees,”

The four stu­dents who took their cases to Sikkim High Court are Pral­had Dani Ch­hetri, Pradip Khar­buja, Suresh Ti­wari and Rashmi Adhikari. All four com­pleted their grad­u­a­tion from SMU’s study cen­tres in Kathmandu, Nepal.

While Ch­hetri, Ti­wari and Adhikari were awarded with de­grees of bach­e­lor of science in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy on May 5, 2010, De­cem­ber 24, 2013, and Novem­ber 2, 2006, re­spec­tively, Khar­buja com­pleted his master’s in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and was awarded the de­gree on April 4, 2014. He is now pur­su­ing MSc (IT) at the same Cen­tre at Kathmandu, Nepal.

The court said these stu­dents were “ag­grieved” by a let­ter dated May 11, 2011, from the Min­istry of Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment ad­dressed to the Royal Dan­ish Em­bassy, stat­ing that no study cen­tre of SMU had been ap­proved ei­ther by the erst­while reg­u­la­tor, Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil, or the present reg­u­la­tor UGC and that the de­grees/pro­grammes of­fered in the dis­tance mode by it were not recog­nised un­der the In­dian Law and could not be equated on terms with an In­dian


If UGC is­sues a cir­cu­lar high­light­ing the court or­der, the stu­dents will find it easy to go in for higher stud­ies and get place­ments.

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