Students in colleges and universities will finally have someone who will hear and act on their grievances and complaints, even if it is against the institution they are studying in.
The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to ensure that all colleges and universities, including capital’s Delhi University (DU), set up a grievance redressal committee (GRC) for students within four months.
In May 2013, the UGC had published a gazette notification asking every university and institute recognised by it to set up a GRC, where students can lodge their complaints on issues related to admissions, discrimination and sexual harassment.
The regulations, part of an effort to bring in reforms in higher education, also gave rights to a person seeking admission to any institution of higher education to make his complaint to the committee.
The notification said that a student could even complain against denial of quality education as promised at the time of admission, delay in conduct of examinations or declaration of results. Students have the option of approaching the ombudsman if they are not happy with the decision of the GRC.
However, in 2015, a former Delhi University law student, Harpal Singh Sangwan, moved high court contending that the UGC regulations were not followed by many universities, particularly DU.
After numerous hearings over a period of about two years, a bench comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal ruled that appointment of an ‘ombudsman’ in every university and a GRC for every college or group of colleges were “mandatory”.
The DU had constituted GRC in 2014, but failed to appoint the ombudsman till date.
The court also directed DU to “take necessary steps forthwith and appoint the ombudsman” in terms of provisions of the regulations “as expeditiously as possible, preferably within a period of four months from today (Friday)”.
It noted that UGC is empowered to take action against institutions that “willfully contravenes or repeatedly fails to comply with orders of the ombudsman”.
Under the regulation, if any institution willfully contravenes or repeatedly fails to comply with orders of the ombudsman or the GRC, the UGC could resort to withdrawal of declaration of fitness to receive grants or withhold any grant allocated to the institution.