The Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD has refused to take up a crucial proposed legislation aimed at punishing higher educational institutions that cheat students, in a setback to Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s reform plans.
The House panel said it could not consider the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Education Bill, 2010 till the HRD ministry clarified its position on recommendations the standing committee had made on another proposed legislation — the Education Tribunals Bill.
The standing committee is headed by influential Congress leader Oscar Fernandes and has Rahul Gandhi as a member.
The ministry had reintroduced the Education Tribunals Bill in Parliament without incorporating any of the panel’s recommendations, triggering charges of ignoring the standing committee’s views.
Sibal was criticised by both the Opposition and Congress MP K. Keshava Rao in the Rajya Sabha and was forced to defer the Education Tribunals Bill to the next session.
Ministry officials have since been hoping that they would be able to convince Parliament to allow the passage of the Education Tribunals Bill during the winter session.
The Unfair Practices Bill and two other reform Bills refer to the tribunals that are to be set up through the Educational Tribunals Bill, which is therefore the pivotal legislation for Sibal’s reforms.
But the standing committee today told HRD ministry officials that it would not even consider the Unfair Practices Bill till the Educational Tribunals bill is passed, or the HRD ministry clarifies what — if any — changes it plans to bring to that Bill following the opposition in Rajya Sabha.
Till the House panel clears the Unfair Practices Bill, it cannot be taken up by Parliament for discussion and passing. The two other reform Bills that refer to Educational Tribunals are also before the House panel, which is now expected to similarly refuse to take them up.