The University Grants Commissionâs policy for fixing eligibility criteria for candidates to qualify the National Eligibility Test (NET), is not âarbitrary and illegalâ, said the Supreme Court of India in its landmark judgement. With this, the SC has almost put an end to a one year long legal fight between the candidates who appeared for the NET June 2012 and the UGC.
A bench headed by justice KS Radhakrishnan was hearing a petition of the UGC, challenging a Bombay High Court order setting aside the eligibility criteria fixed by the UGC after holding NET in June 2012. A single-judge Bench of the Kerala High Court and a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court set aside the criteria.
The bench has noted that the candidates who took the NET 2012 were not misled in any manner and clarified the phrase âclearing the NETâ means clearing the final results and not just passing the three papers of the examination.
The bench also said that courts shall not interfere in matters of education unless there is a violation of statutory provisions.
However, many of the candidates who were part of the this long drawn fight are in no mood to let UGC go off their hook and are planning to file a review petition in the apex court against the judgement.
Prashant Jha, a candidate said, âThough the SC judgement has gone against us, I think still we the option of filing the review petition with some senior lawyer presenting our case, because I think the case was not well presented in the court.â
Another candidate, Hrisabh Jain has put the whole blame on the advocates who presented their case and said, âIn the Supreme Court, the UGC had contended that that have given the notification of this qualifying criteria long before the exam result which a false. They are providing wrong information to the SC and this was not properly contested by the lawyers that are the reason we lost.â
The court said, âWe 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.
âWe 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,â it said.
V Ratnakar another candidate said, âSC Judgement is gone against to student on the ground âWe are of the view that in academic matters unless there is a clear violation of statutory provisions, regulations or the notification issued, the courts shall keep their hands off since those issues fall within the domain of the expertsâ but, what about constitutional rights of common people, who will think about them, will bodies like UGC be allowed to exploit them.â
A senior professor at the University of Delhi, who did not wish to be named said, âIt was an unnecessary move by the candidates to approach court in this matter because the UGC was not wrong on its part. It is highly important for the higher education system to get best talent to impart quality education. Many lawyers made money out of it. It was clearly stated in the notification that âThe final qualifying criteria for JRF and eligibility for lectureship shall be decided by UGC before declaration of resultâ.â
Raziya Parvin, Assistant Professor, Madras University, also justified UGC decision and said âThis is a right move by UGC as there is dearth of good quality people in the higher education system and this might help the whole system. This will increase competition among candidates and would ultimately lead to good and quality people coming into teaching profession.â
The June NET 2012 candidates have convened their meeting over the judgement to chart out future course of action.
âThough the Supreme Court observation is being seen as the final judgement by many it is to be noted that the SC has only accepted the SLP filed by UGC. When an SLP is accepted by the SC, it gets converted to a Civil Appeal,â said Sushma Deswal one of the candidates who suffered because of change in norms.
âNow our case also is having the same status which means that the court proceedings will go on and we have to challenge this point with the help of Kerala High Court's verdict and we have to rope in an expert senior advocate,â she said.