Rajasthan HC Invalidates Degrees Issued by Deemed Universities through Unauthorized Distance Learning

Rajasthan high court Law Insider

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Published on: February 19, 2024 at 12:43 IST

The Rajasthan High Court has declared degrees granted by two deemed universities through distance learning without approval from the University Grants Commission (UGC) as invalid.

The Court ruled that all diplomas and degrees, whether undergraduate, graduate, or Ph.D., introduced without specific approval for new courses or through distance education, except those existing at the time of obtaining deemed university status, are now considered invalid and unrecognized.

Justice Arun Monga, presiding over the bench, emphasized that the deemed universities violated regulations not only by establishing off-campus study centers but also by failing to obtain prior approval for introducing new courses and starting distance education.

The Court asserted that such violations cannot be condoned, and degrees awarded by the deemed universities are liable to be declared invalid and unrecognized.

The matter involved two private educational institutions, the Institute Of Advanced Study In Education (IASE) and Janardan Rai Nagar Rajasthan Vidyapeeth (JRN), along with some of their students. These institutes sought recognition for degrees and diplomas awarded through distance education in various streams and courses.

Previously, the Orissa High Court had allowed a writ petition challenging the validity of an engineering degree obtained through distance mode from JRN.

However, the Supreme Court, upholding the Kartar Singh v Union of India judgment, initiated a UGC inquiry into the future continuation of the deemed university status for both IASE and JRN.

The Supreme Court also ordered a CBI inquiry into the flagrant violations in awarding engineering degrees through distance education.

In this context, the present matter focused on the validity of degrees and diplomas, excluding technical education, awarded through distance mode.

The petitioners argued for the recognition of degrees obtained from IASE and JRN, citing compliance with regulatory standards and the value of distance education.

The respondents contended that engineering degrees awarded through distance education by these institutes were invalid.

The Court considered several questions, including whether deemed universities are governed by the provisions of the UGC Act for imparting general education, whether they can introduce new academic courses without prior UGC approval, and whether they can establish off-campus centers through franchise agreements without seeking approval.

In response, the Court held that deemed universities are subject to the UGC Act and its guidelines for general education, and they cannot introduce new courses without prior UGC approval, whether for conventional classroom education or distance mode education.

The Court declared degrees awarded in violation of these principles as invalid and unrecognized. Additionally, the court directed the UGC to conduct fresh examinations for affected students within a reasonable time.

The Court ordered both IASE and JRN to refund the entire amount charged to students enrolled in new unapproved courses, off-campus study centers without prior approval, or distance education without approval.

The decision underscores the importance of adherence to regulatory standards and the approval process in the field of education to maintain the quality and credibility of academic programs.

Cause Title: Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, (IASE) v. Union Of India & Ors. [Neutral Citation: 2023:RJ-JD:45041]

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