In a relief to hundreds of candidates who have obtained the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree but have not cleared the National Eligibility Test (NET)/State-Level Eligibility Test (SLET), the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Haryana Public Service Commission to consider their applications for filling up of 1,396 assistant professors' posts in the state colleges.
A division bench, comprising justices Jasbir Singh and HS Sidhu, on Wednesday, also extended the time to deposit the cost of the application form as well as examination fee by the candidates till March 10. Earlier, the last date was February 28. The directions came during the resumed hearing of a petition filed by Rajiv and others challenging the Commission's advertisement of January 24, inviting applications for filling up of assistant professors' posts. The petitioner had also challenged the Haryana government's notification of September last year by which NET/SLET were made compulsory for college lecturers in contrast to the UGC regulations.
UGC guidelines binding on states
The court made it clear that the regulations of University Grants Commission (UGC) issued in 2010 that exempt passing of NET/SLET for PhD degree holders for assistant professors' posts were binding on state governments and not just recommendatory, as interpreted by Haryana.
The court said a coordinate bench of the Punjab and Haryana high court had also made it clear earlier in a case that the UGC had powers to make regulations for selection of teachers and relaxation of criteria, and the state governments could not ignore it.
Refuting the state government's stand that it had issued the notification well in its powers making NET/SLET compulsory even for PhD degree holders to maintain standards, the court said when the state government had been accepting the UGC guidelines from the very beginning, "it is not open for the state to take a contrary stand now". The court observed that if the state was so concerned about the falling standards of the PhD course, "it should have taken up the case with the UGC, which was not done".