UGC Norms On MPhil, PhD Courses: SFI Moves Delhi High Court
The Students Federation of India (SFI) today moved the Delhi High Court against the University Grants Commission's (UGC) regulations on the eligibility and manner of admission to MPhil and PhD courses in the country. The matter came up for hearing before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Deepa Sharma which listed it for consideration on April 18. SFI in its plea had challenged the constitutional validity of the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of MPhil and PhD degree) Regulations 2016 which came into effect from July 5, 2016. The students' body termed the Regulations as "irrational, unreasonable and arbitrary" and alleged that it is contrary to the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy.
Apart from SFI, three students -- one from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and two from the Delhi University (DU) -- who aspire to pursue MPhil and PhD courses from JNU have also challenged the Regulations along with the students' body.
The students and SFI have contended that the Regulations have resulted in a massive cut in seats for the MPhil and PhD courses for the 2017-18 academic year.
Their petition says that compared to 970 seats in the last academic year for these two degrees, this year the number of seats has dropped to 102.
The seats have reduced due to capping of the number of students per research supervisor for MPhil and PhD courses, the petition has said.
It has contended that the cap was put without consulting or informing students and without improving the infrastructure.
The petitioners have challenged various provisions of the Regulations including those laying down a minimum percentage requirement of 55 per cent for General category and 50 per cent for reserved category as well as the 100 per cent weightage given to viva-voce exam.
Apart from striking down of the Regulations, they have also sought filling up of the vacancies in the posts of Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors to avoid reduction of seats in the MPhil and PhD courses in the current academic year (2017-18).
As per JNU's admission prospectus for the current academic year, the last date for submitting the filled up applications was April 5.
A single judge of the high court on March 17 had dismissed a plea by some students challenging the JNU's 2017-18 admission policy based on the UGC regulations.
The judge had said that the varsity has to follow the regulations without any deviation.
The students, however, had not challenged the regulations.
They had claimed in their plea that proper procedure was not followed by JNU while adopting the UGC notification, which capped the number of students per professor for MPhil and PhD courses.
The single judge had also refused to accept the students' contention that the varsity can decide how to implement the regulations, saying once UGC framed the regulations the varsity was required to follow it.
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