More than 7,000 college and university lecturers in the state could soon find themselves out in the cold. The Bombay High Court, on Thursday, refused to interfere with the University Grants Commission's (UGC) decision to cancel exemptions granted to them to continue in service.
Clearing the National Eligibility Test (NET), State Level Eligibility Test (SLET) or completing a PhD is the minimum criteria set by the UGC for teaching positions in undergraduate colleges across the country.
However, in a resolution passed on February 23 this year, the UGC decided to exempt lecturers appointed between September 1991 and January 2001 from these conditions.
But, a week later, the UGC withdrew the exemption following a directive from the Human Resource Development Ministry.
The ministry also curtailed UGC's powers to exempt college teachers who did not meet the eligibility criteria and allow them to continue in service.
After the UGC cancelled all exemptions on June 10, the Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations moved the Bombay High Court challenging the HRD Ministry's directive and UGC's subsequent action.
Counsel for the organisation, N M Ganguli, pointed to three earlier orders of the high court, which directed the UGC to process exemption applications of lecturers.
The contention, however, failed to impress a division bench of Justice D K Deshmukh and Justice R.G. Ketkar, who refused to interfere with the UGC’s decision or entertain the petition.
“Let the academicians do their job," observed Justice Deshmukh adding, "the court cannot decide what the eligibility criteria for certain posts should be."
The matter is likely to be finally decided on Monday, when Ganguli will let the court know of the petitioner's wish to withdraw the plea.
The issue dates back to September 1991, when the UGC introduced NET as an entry point qualification for college and university lecturers.
The state government had, at the time, refused to make it mandatory considering the shortage of NET qualified teachers.