The Supreme Court has allowed the Himachal Pradesh government to revive its commission to monitor 16 private universities and an equal number of private institutes, mainly engineering colleges, officials said Friday.
A division bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice C. Nagappan Thursday suspended the Himachal Pradesh High Court judgment quashing the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions (Regulatory) Act of 2010.
The high court Oct 19 last year set aside the act that empowered the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission, set up in 2010 under the act, to regulate the universities.
The state, which had moved the apex court, pleaded that the regulatory body was required to maintain quality of education and monitor commercialisation of education.
The high court judgment came on the petition of the Himachal Pradesh Private Universities Management Association, which seeks setting aside of the act and quashing of notices issued to them.
The high court had declared the act unconstitutional on the ground that the state legislature was incompetent to enact such a law on a subject covered by the field occupied by Entry 66 of the Union List.
Entry 66 of the Union List stipulates that a teaching university will not come within the purview of the state legislation on account of the specific nature of determination of standards in institutions for higher education being in the Union List for which parliament alone is competent to legislate.
"Accordingly, we may have to declare the act of 2010 ultra vires and void ab initio," the high court had ruled.
Official sources told IANS that the regulatory commission had played a crucial role in pointing out irregularities by the universities.
These were: enrolling students even before the institution came into existence; admitting students without fulfilling minimum qualification; filling more than approved number of seats and registering research scholars to Ph.D. courses without approval of the University Grants Commission.
Before the regulatory commission was scrapped, it had issued notice to five private universities for non-compliance of admission norms prescribed by it for under-graduate engineering courses.
They were APG University in Shimla, Shoolini University and Manav Bharti University, both in Solan, Baddi University of Emerging Science and Technologies in Baddi, and Sri Sai University in Palampur.
In 2012, the regulatory commission imposed a fine of Rs.1 crore on Manav Bharti University for a number of irregularities.