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2015 (8) TMI 69 - SUPREME COURT

2015 (8) TMI 69 - SUPREME COURT - 2015 (3) SCALE 726 - Central Government by letter dated 3rd November, 2010 stated candidates seeking appointment to post of Lecturer/Assistant Professor must fulfill minimum qualifications, including condition of passing NET test as prescribed by UGC Held that:- by Section 20 of University Grants Commission Act, 1956, Central Government is empowered to give directions on questions of policy relating to national purposes which shall guide Commission in discharg .....

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education and there was nothing arbitrary or discriminatory in this Larger public interest was nothing less than having highly qualified Assistant Professors to teach in UGC Institutions Decision in the case of Trimbak Damodhar Rajpurkar v. Assaram Hiraman Patil [1961 (11) TMI 65 - SUPREME COURT] followed Decided against Appellant. - CIVIL APPEAL NO. __OF 2015, ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NOS.36023-36032 OF 2010 - Dated:- 16-3-2015 - T.S. Thakur & R.F. Nariman, JJ. JUDGMENT [ARISING OU .....

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RISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS.3054-3055 OF 2014] [ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.3753 OF 2014] R.F.Nariman, J. 1. Leave granted in all the special leave petitions. 2. A large number of appeals are before us in which the judgments of four High Courts are assailed. The High Court of Delhi in its judgment dated 6th December, 2010 was faced with the constitutional validity of the University Grants Commission Regulations (Minimum Qualifications Required for the Appointment And Career Advancement of Teachers i .....

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ines of the Delhi High Court, the Madras and Rajasthan High Courts have also repelled challenges to the aforesaid regulations vide their judgments dated 6th December, 2010 and 13th September, 2012. On the other hand, the Allahabad High Court in a judgment dated 6th April, 2012 has found that the said regulations were issued pursuant to directions of the Central Government which themselves were issued outside the powers conferred by the UGC Act and, hence, the eligibility conditions laid down wou .....

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appellants before us in all the other appeals. 3. The facts necessary to appreciate the controversy in these appeals are as follows:- The University Grants Commission Act, 1956, was enacted by Parliament to make provision for the coordination and determination of standards in Universities being enacted under Entry 66 List I, Schedule VII to the Constitution of India. By Section 4 of the Act, a University Grants Commission is established to carry out the functions entrusted to it by Section 12 o .....

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ating to national purposes, the decision of the Central Government shall be final. 26. Power to make regulations.-(1) The Commission may [, by notification in the Official Gazette,] make regulations consistent with this Act and the rules made thereunder,- (a) regulating the meetings of the Commission and the procedure for conducting business thereat; (b) regulating the manner in which and the purposes for which persons may be associated with the Commission under Section 9; (c) specifying the ter .....

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degree by any University; (g) regulating the maintenance of standards and the co-ordination of work or facilities in Universities. [(h) regulating the establishment of institutions referred to in clause (ccc) of Section 12 and other matters relating to such institutions; (i) specifying the matters in respect of which fees may be charged, and scales of fees in accordance with which fees may be charged, by a college under sub-section (2) of Section 12-A; (j) specifying the manner in which an inqui .....

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is Act, to the regulations or any of them but no retrospective effect shall be given to any regulation so as to prejudicially affect the interests of any person to whom such regulation may be applicable. 4. In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 26(1)(e) of the said Act, the UGC framed regulations in 1982 prescribing the qualification for the teaching post of Lecturer in colleges as follows:- M. Phil. degree or a recognised degree beyond Master s level . In 1986, the Malhotra Committee w .....

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91 regulations by which candidates who have submitted their Ph.D. thesis or passed the M. Phil. examination on or before 31st December, 1993 are exempted from the said eligibility test for appointment to the post of Lecturer. This continued till 2002, the only change made being that the exemption continued qua Ph.D. thesis holders for dates that were extended till 31st December, 2002. This state of affairs continued until 2008 when the Mungekar Committee submitted its final report recommending t .....

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m the date of issue of this order prescribing that qualifying in NET/SLET shall generally be compulsory for all persons appointed to teaching positions of Lecturer/Assistant Professor in Higher Education, and only persons who possess degree of Ph.D. after having been enrolled/ admitted to a programme notified by the Commission, after it has satisfied itself on the basis of expert opinion, as to be or have always been in conformity with the procedure of standardization of Ph.D. prescribed by it, .....

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/Colleges/ Institutions. Provided, however, that candidates, who are or have been awarded Ph.D. Degree in compliance of the University Grants Commission (minimum standards and procedure for award of Ph.D. Degree), Regulation 2009, shall be exempted from the requirement of the minimum eligibility condition of NET/SLET for recruitment and appointment of Assistant Professor or equivalent position in Universities/Colleges/Institutions. The proviso referred to a number of new conditions relating to t .....

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of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 directing the UGC as follows: (i) That the UGC shall not take up specific cases for exemption from the application of the NET Regulations of 2009 after the said Regulations have come into force, for either specific persons or for a specific university/institution/college from the application of the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for appointment and career advancement of teachers in universities and colleges) 3rd Amendment Regulations, 2009 for appointme .....

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he applicability of NET shall not be implemented as being contrary to national policy. The above said directions shall be implemented by the UGC forthwith. 7. Pursuant to this directive, on 30th June, 2010, the UGC framed Regulations of 2010, para 3.3.1 of which states: 3.3.1. NET/SLET/SET shall remain the minimum eligibility condition for recruitment and appointment of Assistant Professors in Universities/Colleges/Institutions. Provided however, that candidates, who are or have been awarded a P .....

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idates having M. Phil. degree on or before 10th July, 2009 and all persons who obtained the Ph.D. degree on or before 31st December, 2009 and had registered themselves for the Ph.D. before this date, but are awarded such degree subsequently shall remain exempted from the requirement of NET for the purpose of appointment as Lecturer/Assistant Professor. 9. The Central Government, however, by letter dated 3rd November, 2010 informed the UGC that they were unable to agree with the decision of the C .....

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may be applicable. They, therefore, argued that both under Article 14 as well as this sub-section, since all M.Phil. and Ph.D. holders had been repeatedly assured that they would be exempt from passing the NET exam if they were such holders prior to 2009, the regulations should not be so construed as to impose the burden of this examination upon them. They further argued that under Section 26(2), regulations made in pursuance of Section 26(1)(e) and (g) do not require the previous approval of t .....

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those who passed their M. Phil. and Ph.D. degrees prior to 2009 fell in a separate class which had an intelligible differentia from those who did not so fall as has been maintained by the UGC from time to time. They strongly relied upon the judgment of this Court in University Grants Commission v. Sadhana Chaudhary (1996) 10 SCC 536 for this proposition as well as the proposition that their legitimate expectation in the matter of appointment on the post of Lecturer had been done away with. 11. O .....

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sion of the Central Government shall be final. They then relied upon Udai Singh Dagar v. Union of India (2007) 10 SCC 306, for the proposition that a person will have the right to enter a profession only if he holds the requisite qualification and the holding of such qualification would be prospective if it is a qualification which is laid down any time before his entry into a profession. 12. It is clear that Section 26 enables the Commission to make regulations only if they are consistent with .....

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inasmuch as, being based on the Mungekar Committee Report, the Central Government felt that a common uniform nationwide test should be a minimum eligibility condition for recruitment for the appointment of Lecturer/Assistant Professors in Universities/Colleges/Institutions. This is for the obvious reason that M. Phil. degrees or Ph.D. degrees are granted by different Universities/Institutions having differing standards of excellence. It is quite possible to conceive of M.Phil/ Ph.D. degrees bei .....

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by various Universities/ Institutions. The object sought to be achieved by these directions is clear: that all Lecturers in Universities/Colleges/Institutions governed by the UGC Act should have a certain minimum standard of excellence before they are appointed as such. These directions are not only made in exercise of powers under Section 20 of the Act but are made to provide for coordination and determination of standards which lies at the very core of the UGC Act. It is clear, therefore, that .....

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nores the opening lines of Section 26(1) which states that the Commission can only make regulations consistent with the Act, which brings in the Central Government s power under Section 20 of the Act, a power that is independent of sub-section (2) of Section 26. A regulation may not require the previous approval of the Central Government and may yet have to be in conformity with a direction issued under Section 20 of the Act. In fact, even where a regulation can only be made with the previous ap .....

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ent case by the Central Government to the Commission. 14. The other interesting argument made is that such regulations should not be given retrospective effect so as to prejudicially affect the interests of any person to whom such regulation may be applicable. In order to appreciate this contention, it is necessary to distinguish between an existing right and a vested right. This distinction was made with great felicity in Trimbak Damodhar Rajpurkar v. Assaram Hiraman Patil, 1962 Suppl. 1 SCR 70 .....

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in the present case it would have been available to him on March 31, 1953 if the statutory provision had not in the meanwhile extended the life of the tenancy. It is true that the appellant gave notice to the respondents on March 11, 1952 as he was then no doubt entitled to do; but his right as a landlord to obtain possession did not accrue merely on the giving of the notice, it accrued in his favour on the date when the lease expired. It is only after the period specified in the notice is over .....

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d right. Where a statute operates in future it cannot be said to be retrospective merely because within the sweep of its operation all existing rights are included. As observed by Buckley, L.J. in West v. Gwynne [ (1911) 2 Ch 1 at pp 11, 12] retrospective operation is one matter and interference with existing rights is another. If an Act provides that as at a past date the law shall be taken to have been that which it was not, that Act I understand to be retrospective. That is not this case. The .....

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, 1892 (55 & 56 Vict. c. 13). In substance Section 3 provided that in all leases containing a covenant, condition or agreement against assigning, underletting, or parting with the possession, or disposing of the land or property leased without licence or consent, such covenant, condition or agreement shall, unless the lease contains an expressed provision to the contrary, be deemed to be subject to a proviso to the effect that no fine or sum of money in the nature of a fine shall be payable .....

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d appears to us to be substantially similar. A similar question had been raised for the decision of this Court in Jivabhai Purshottam v. Chhagan Karson [ Civil Appeal No 153 of 1958 decided on 27-3-1961] in regard to the retrospective operation of Section 34(2)(a) of the said amending Act 33 of 1952 and this Court has approved of the decision of the Full Bench of the Bombay High Court on that point in Durlabbha Fakirbhai v. Jhaverbhai Bhikabhai [ (1956) 58 BLR 85] . It was held in Durlabbhai cas .....

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terminate the tenancy; but it is always open to the landlord not to carry out his intention. Therefore, for the application of the restriction under sub-section 2(a) on the right of the landlord to terminate the tenancy, the crucial date is not the date of notice but the date on which the right to terminate matures; that is the date on which the tenancy stands terminated . 15. Similar is the case on facts here. A vested right would arise only if any of the appellants before us had actually been .....

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a NET test is laid down, it does not mean that any vested right of the appellants is affected, nor does it mean that the regulation laying down such minimum eligibility condition would be retrospective in operation. Such condition would only be prospective as it would apply only at the stage of appointment. It is clear, therefore, that the contentions of the private appellants before us must fail. 16. One of the learned counsel for the petitioners argued, based on the language of the direction o .....

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and 2010. 17. The arguments based on Article 14 equally have to be rejected. It is clear that the object of the directions of the Central Government read with the UGC regulations of 2009/2010 are to maintain excellence in standards of higher education. Keeping this object in mind, a minimum eligibility condition of passing the national eligibility test is laid down. True, there may have been exemptions laid down by the UGC in the past, but the Central Government now as a matter of policy feels .....

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triction is to be determined in an objective manner and from the standpoint of interests of the general public and not from the standpoint of the interests of persons upon whom the restrictions have been imposed or upon abstract consideration. A restriction cannot be said to be unreasonable merely because in a given case, it operates harshly. In determining whether there is any unfairness involved; the nature of the right alleged to have been infringed, the underlying purpose of the restriction .....

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ss affects the economy of the country. (See Parbhani Transport Coop. Society Ltd. v. Regional Transport Authority [AIR 1960 SC 801 : 62 Bom LR 521] , Shree Meenakshi Mills Ltd. v. Union of India [(1974) 1 SCC 468 : AIR 1974 SC 366] , Hari Chand Sarda v. Mizo District Council [AIR 1967 SC 829] and Krishnan Kakkanth v. Govt. of Kerala [(1997) 9 SCC 495 : AIR 1997 SC 128]. 19. Similarly, in Sethi Auto Service Station v. DDA (2009) 1 SCC 180, it was held:- 33. It is well settled that the concept of .....

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tirely to the discretion of the deciding authority without any such legal bounds and if the decision is taken fairly and objectively, the court will not interfere on the ground of procedural fairness to a person whose interest based on legitimate expectation might be affected. Therefore, a legitimate expectation can at the most be one of the grounds which may give rise to judicial review but the granting of relief is very much limited.(Vide Hindustan Development Corpn. [(1993) 3 SCC 499] 20. In .....

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ct sought to be achieved at that point of time, being based on an intelligible differentia. An Article 14 challenge to the said exemption was, therefore, repelled. Even assuming that the said judgment would continue to apply even after the 2009 Regulations, a legitimate expectation must always yield to the larger public interest. The larger public interest in the present case is nothing less than having highly qualified Assistant Professors to teach in UGC Institutions. Even if, therefore, the p .....

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s: 104. CONCLUSIONS: 1. The Central Government, in exercise of its powers under Section 20 (1) of UGC Act, 1956, does not possess powers and authority to set aside or annul the recommendations of the University Grants Commission, and the regulations made by it under Section 26 (1) (e) of the Act defining the qualification, that should ordinarily be required to be possessed by any person to be appointed to the teaching posts of the University, for which under Section 26 (2) of the UGC Act, 1956, .....

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education. The recommendations made by it in the matters of qualifications and the limited exemptions of such qualifications for appointment for teachers in Universities taken after constituting expert Committees and considering their recommendations is not subject to supervision and control by the Central Government. The Central Government in the matters of laying down minimum qualifications for appointment of teachers in the University, does not possess any supervisory powers, to annul the res .....

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dated 12.8.2010 recommending the 3rd Amendments to the Regulations of 2009 to be prospective in nature, is binding on the Universities including the University of Allahabad. 6. The petitioners were awarded Ph.D degrees in the year 2009 and in the year 2003 respectively prior to enforcement of the 3rd Amendment in the regulations, which came into force on 31.12.2009, and thus they are eligible, even if they are not NET/SLET/SET qualified, if they have been awarded Ph.D degree with any six condit .....

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e petitioners, that they satisfy six out of eleven tests recommended by the University Grants Commission for award of their Ph.D. 22. We have already pointed out how the directions of the Central Government under Section 20 of the UGC Act pertain to questions of policy relating to national purpose. We have also pointed out that the regulation making power is subservient to directions issued under Section 20 of the Act. The fact that the UGC is an expert body does not take the matter any further. .....

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ut the further qualification of having to pass the NET test. The UGC itself does not appear to have given effect to this recommendation of the Thyagarajan Committee. However, the High Court thought it fit to give effect to this Committee s recommendation in the final directions issued by it. When the UGC itself has not accepted the recommendations of the said Committee, we do not understand how the High Court sought to give effect to such recommendations. We, therefore, set aside the Allahabad H .....

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