The Supreme Court has asked the High Courts to keep off their hands in matters relating to education policies of the Government as it would lead to chaos and serious erosions of the country's educational standards.
If the courts start permitting particular courses on the request of individual students or institutions "it will lead to chaos in education and deterioration in standards of education," a bench of Justices R V Raveendran and G S Singhvi observed.
The apex court said the role of statutory expert bodies like the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) are well defined and courts should interfere with their functioning only if it involved interpretation of law or principles of law.
"If it is a question of educational policy or an issue involving academic matter, the courts keep their hands off. If any provision of law or principle of law has to be interpreted, applied or enforced, with reference to or connected with education, courts will step in," the apex court observed in an order.
The bench passed the observation while upholding an appeal filed by the AICTE challenging the directions of the high courts of Delhi and Punjab & Haryana for granting recognition to a certain bridge course for diploma holders so that they are awarded B.Tech degrees.
The AICTE had earlier rejected the plea of the YMCA Institute of Engineering, Haryana to accord recognition to the one-year bridge course it conducted to enable the students who passed a four-year advance diploma course to directly obtain a "B.Tech" degree.
Though the State government accorded approval to the course, the AICTE refused to recognise the bridge course on the ground that approving it would involve a major policy shift and it would affect the technical education all over the country.
However, the High Courts of Delhi and Punjab & Haryana in separate orders directed the AICTE to accord approval for the bridge course, following which it appealed in the apex court.
The apex court agreed with the AICTE's contention that if the bridge course was approved it would be detrimental to academic standards and jeoparadize the entire technical education as it may lead to similar demands for equivalence and lowering of entry-level qualifications thus leading to nationwide erosion of standards in engineering education.
"The courts are neither equipped nor have the academic or technical background to substitute themselves in place of statutory professional technical bodies and take decisions in academic matters involving standards and quality of technical education," the bench said, while quashing the two high court orders.