Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) found itself in a spot before the Delhi High Court on Tuesday after its own lawyer took a different stand contrary to what the University had submitted in writing in connection with the implementation of a controversial 2016 UGC notification.
Additional solicitor general (ASG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for JNU, argued that the University Grant Commission’s notification — putting a cap on number of students a professor can provide guidance — was binding on the university and cannot deviate from it.
The UGC norms prescribe that 100 per cent weightage should be given to viva-voce for taking admissions in these courses. But JNU, in its affidavit, said the admission policy for MPhil and PhD programmes have a weightage of 80 per cent for entrance exam and 20 per cent for viva voce.
Justice VK Rao then said that what was argued in court by additional solicitor general Mehta “was not in consonance with what was filed in the affidavit”. He asked the additional solicitor general if the university had not deviated from the UGC’s norm by adopting an 80:20 criteria for the courses.
ASG Mehta responded that the vice chancellor had taken the decision “under duress” due to “hooliganism” of agitating students. Terming it as an “illegal decision” ASG Mehta said, “We could not have done that…We cannot tweak them (UGC norms)”.
The ASG further said that the process undertaken by the university to adopt the UGC’s notification was “an unnecessary exercise” as the university was bound by the notification. He said the notification was issued for maintaining minimum standards of education and ensuring varsities do not become “factories for mass production of degree holders”.
Senior advocate Arvind Nigam, appearing for the students who have moved the court against the procedure followed by the university while adopting the UGC’s notification, said the varsity cannot jump position from its affidavit and asked whether the V-C had filed the document in court under duress.
Nigam sought that the issue of adoption of the UGC notification be sent back to the academic council for reconsideration.
The court noted that the petitioner have not challenged the UGC notification taking into consideration the written submission of the university. The court then reserved its judgment.