Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has ratified the creation of another private university in Punjab even as it does not comply with the basic conditions, thanks evidently to a push by the state’s higher education minister, Surjit Singh Rakhra.
It is Rakhra’s two-page note on the file in favour of creation of ‘CT University’ at Ludhiana that has been counter-signed by Badal. This note urged the CM that the university be allowed to be created waiving various policy conditions as the applicant organisation, CT Group of Institutions, Jalandhar, had already spent a lot of money on the university project and also taken a loan of Rs 115 crore from banks. The group could meet the norms within a year of the university’s creation, Rakhra added in the note.
While the state’s higher education department has been allowing universities to be created without the all-important second inspection, this is probably for the first time that a university could be permitted despite non-compliances that came out in inspection. For the final creation, an Act has to be passed by the assembly, or the government could form it with an ordinance and the Act could be made later.
So sure is CT group of a nod that it has already announced on its website that a CT University is “coming soon” and admissions are open.
But this proposed university does not even have the requisite constructed space among other non-compliances, noted principal secretary, higher education, Anurag Verma, who has now locked horns with the minister over the issue before any final go-ahead. Citing a noting of the legal department to which the file was sent following the CM’s approval, Verma noted that any move to allow CT University without compliances would be unprecedented, and that the CM had never allowed such a waiver before.
Using fault as excuse
Even Rakhra, during the assembly session in September last, had told the House that several universities had been created without second inspection and the department would eventually undertake the inspections. But, his note of March 17 to the CM used precisely that as an excuse to allow CT University to be created: “Since seven societies (educational) in Punjab have been allowed to create universities after giving certain waivers, this group (CT) should also be allowed to do so. What if they take us to court saying that we allowed some universities to be created after giving waivers but are refusing them and are biased against them?” In this case, a second inspection as such had been carried out but underlined shortcomings; after which the group sought exemption from another inspection until after they would start their courses.
Group used same alibi
The minister’s note and a request made by CT group agree on this alibi. The group on January 7 wrote to the department: “Since many [of] the private universities in the state had been exempted from the conduct of a second inspection by your department before the constitution of their respective acts and start of the academic session in those universities, we plead that the second inspection of our proposed CT University may please be conducted after the issuance of ordinance for the constitution of the CT University and after the start of the academic session viz 2016-17 with the list of courses submitted for permission.”
When contacted on Wednesday, Verma said, “The case is still under consideration. No final decision has been taken. I won’t like to say anything more than that.”
As for Rakhra, he told HT: “Yes, I have asked that CT University be created without further inspection. The group will comply with the policy conditions within one year. We did it in other cases and we can do it for this case also. I am not showing unnecessary hurry in the case, it is being done as routine.”